"Should I call your lawyer?" Triona asked LaCroix quietly. He was in a holding cell, the other occupants huddled in the opposite corner in obvious fear.
"I don't think that will be necessary," he replied. He quelled her protest with a sharp look. "I appreciate your concern, my dear, but it is misplaced. I have been held by the Inquisition, and this," he waved one hand negligently at the bars of the cell, "is nothing to concern you."
"But it does concern me! This is all Nicholas's doing - you shouldn't be here," she hissed.
"Ah, Nicholas. He, I presume, is the reason for your agitation?"
"Yes. I spoke to him in the parking lot. He tried to stop me from seeing you, said I didn't belong here," she explained, becoming angry all over again.
"And he was correct," LaCroix said firmly.
Triona stepped back, stunned. He was taking Nick's side? After everything he'd done? Fighting back tears, she shook her head in denial. "How can you say that?"
"I do not want you involved in this. You will go back to the estate and there you will stay till I inform you otherwise." His tone brooked no argument, nor did he expect one.
Common sense fled as anger took over. "No! I won't leave until you're released!"
"Triona," he said, his voice dangerously low, "you know better than to defy me."
She felt a stab of fear as she walked toward the bars of the cell against her will, compelled by the ancient vampire who held her in his thrall. "Don't." Her protest was a mixture of pleading and defiance.
He rested the tips of his fingers against the pounding pulse at her throat. "You try my patience, child. You will do as you are told, and we will discuss the consequences of disobedience when next we meet." It was a warning and a promise.
Shaking her head mutely, Triona clenched her hands into fists, fighting back the angry words that threatened to spill from her lips. With one last look at her Master, she spun on her heel and fled the holding area.
Leaning against her car, Triona futilely tried to find a tissue in her coat pocket while at the same time, trying not to cry. Something brushed against her cheek, startling her. She realized it was a handkerchief.
"It can't be that bad, Princess," a voice said as she turned around, looking up into the dark eyes of Javier Vachon. She took the proffered hankie from the handsome Spanish vampire and dabbed at her eyes.
She smiled a little at the use of 'princess'. He'd been calling her that since they'd become friends after LaCroix had initially moved her into rooms at the Raven after Janette's departure. "You sure about that?" she asked dispiritedly.
Vachon sighed. "You ticked off the General again, didn't you?" Shaking his head, not needing her nod to confirm his question, he said, "Princess, most *vampires* are afraid of LaCroix, and you aren't a vampire. You're a very fragile mortal woman -- a woman who should know better by now! You've got to do some major work on the meek and obedient thing." He smiled, brushing away a tear from her face.
Triona snorted. Meek, let alone obedient, was not her strong suit. "I know you're right, Vachon, I do! But I've never been good at submitting. And tonight, I was already furious." Briefly, she explained what had happened between her and Nick. "And when LaCroix agreed with him, I felt betrayed and hurt, and I was angry." Triona looked up at the night sky and shook her head in aggravation. "So angry I openly defied him."
"You do like to live dangerously, querida." Vachon grasped her chin gently, looking down at her intently, his dark eyes and pale face framed by shoulder length black curls. "When you see him again, you're going to beg his forgiveness... Uh uh!" He waved a finger at her admonishingly when she began to protest. "You're going to beg his forgiveness," he repeated firmly, "and you're going to keep those firecracker eyes of yours downcast, the perfect portrait of meek and modest womanhood."
"You've got to be kidding!" Triona looked aghast at his instructions. "Besides, he'd never buy it. He'd know instantly I didn't actually feel what I was portraying outwardly."
Vachon just crossed his arms, grinning. "Maybe, maybe not. But even so, I can guarantee you it will amuse him, not to mention distract him. Never underestimate the power of your womanly wiles, Princess."
That pulled an actual laugh from her. "Womanly wiles," she repeated, amused at the concept.
"Hey, don't laugh. I'm sharing the benefit of my male experience with you!"
Triona gave him a quick hug and kissed his cheek. "I appreciate that, Vachon."
"At least promise me you'll try?" She nodded. "Good, because I want to see your very pretty face around for many years to come. Got it?"
Vachon looked around. "And now I have an appointment with a certain pretty blonde homicide detective, whom I'm certain is going to try and pump me for information on tonight's happenings at the Raven."
"Have fun!" Triona said mischievously as he walked away.
"Remember: meek!" he tossed over his shoulder. "I'll see you around, Princess." One last smile and he was gone.
Methos pulled her into his arms as she started to cry, drawing her down to sit on the antique chest at the foot of the bed. "Shhh... it's okay."
"I've never been able to grieve for him till now. Never really realized she'd killed him till this moment." Triona buried her face in her hands, wishing she could stem the wash of memories that were now tumbling wildly around her mind. "It's like opening a drawer with all sorts of bits and pieces you barely remember putting there, and picking them up one by one, all the memories out of order."
"I'm sorry, love." He stroked her hair gently.
"He was a good friend, a good man, and he made me laugh at a time when I didn't laugh all that much."
"I wish I could thank him for that."
"So do I," she whispered. "So do I."
He held her quietly, giving her time to regain her composure.
"Why 'princess'?" he finally asked, curious.
Triona looked up and smiled tremulously. "He said I was like a princess locked away from the world, the prized possession of the powerful king." Methos nodded in understanding. "After that, it became something of a private joke between the two of us."
The sound of the grandfather clock in the stairway could be heard striking ten, and once more, the sound of rain beating against the roof echoed through the room. Triona drew her legs up, wrapping her arms around her knees. "So I drove away, and never saw Vachon again. I did as I was told, did as I was commanded," she amended, continuing her tale, "and went back to the estate...."
Triona turned off the radio in her room, her brow creased in puzzlement. The girl who had called LaCroix's show had called him Lucius, his mortal name, and Triona had sensed the tightly wound tension in his response. What was going on? She fought down the urge to call him, so see if he was all right. He wasn't interested in her concern, so why bother? He'd probably just reprimand her again. The ring of the phone interrupted her troubled thoughts. Answering it, she wasn't sure if she was surprised or not that LaCroix was on the other end of the line.
"Listen to me carefully, child," he said peremptorily with no pleasantries, "You are to leave the estate immediately."
Leave? After him ordering her to come back here and stay put? "You told me to come back here, and to stay here, and I did as you asked. Now you want me to leave?" She fought hard to keep her voice calm, trying to remember Vachon's advice, but not succeeding. She was tired of being treated like a child.
"This is not the time for you to be childish," his voice rapped out from the receiver. "You will go to the airport, and get on whatever the first flight leaving Toronto is, and then you will go to Janette. You will stay with her till I contact you."
She didn't reply, taking an angry breath and wishing she could smash the phone against the wall.
"Triona, you will do this," he commanded in a voice that left no doubt that she best not be even considering the possibility of disobeying him.
Shoulders slumping in defeat, she said tonelessly, "I'll do as you wish." He didn't even bother to reply, a dial tone now sounding in her ear. Slamming the receiver back into the cradle, she gave into her earlier impulse, picking up the phone and throwing it violently against the wall.
Seething, Triona threw her suitcase into the trunk of her car, slamming the lid down and kicking the bumper for good measure. No more, she thought angrily. She would stay with Janette, refuse to come back when he summoned her like a pet. He and Nicholas were welcome to each other! As she reached for the handle of the car door, a wave of dread swept across her, and she felt like she couldn't breath. An icy chill that was much more than the wind that blew off the lake made her tremble uncontrollably.
"So much anger, so much rage," a voice said from somewhere behind her. Triona recognized the voice. It was the girl from the radio. She slowly turned around, feeling as if her legs wouldn't hold her. There, a few feet away, was a child, but not a child, a part of her mind noted. Blonde hair, blue eyes, delicate features, dressed in black. She didn't look more than twelve, but Triona *knew* she was far, far older. Fighting down the terror that threatened to overwhelm her, Triona pressed against the car, still gripping the handle behind her. Something seemed to amuse the girl, because she laughed. It was the most soulless sound Triona had ever heard.
"Who are you?" Triona managed to force the question from her lips.
"Why, I am your death. Surely you realize that?" The blonde child paused, looking at her contemplatively. "But, I suppose it's only right that we're properly introduced before I kill you," she added conversationally, as if she were discussing the weather. "My name is Divia."
Absurdly, she found herself reciprocating. "Triona."
Divia smiled, seemingly delighted. "What a brave little mortal you are. But I suppose I should expect that of one my father would make his concubine."
"Father?" Triona asked, but somehow she already knew the answer. The child, Divia, was LaCroix's daughter, no matter how bizarre that might seem.
"Father, son, as I am daughter and mother." She stepped closer to Triona. "I made him, gave him immortality, and then he murdered me!" All amusement was gone. Now, the vampire's delicate face was a study in fury. Triona cried out in pain as the girl's anger raked across her senses. "And now I will have my vengeance. I will kill all those he loves, leaving him as alone as he left me!"
Triona laughed with barely controlled hysteria. "Loves? Then what do you want with me? Your father loves me no more than a prized horse, or a piece of art. I'm only a woman, not his son, not Nicholas!" Rage had overcome terror for the moment, and she let if have full reign. Without even knowing how it happened, she found herself on her knees. Divia looking down at her.
"You underestimate your value to him, my almost granddaughter. It's really too bad, because you would have made a suitable fledgling, worthy of the gift I granted you." She sighed with what might have been regret. "But you have a strong bond with Lucius. And through that bond, he will bear your suffering, knowing he is the cause." Divia caressed Triona's cheek and she was powerless to pull away. "I'm sorry this can't be a quick death, but I need you to linger long enough to fulfill my revenge."
She couldn't even close her eyes as Divia pulled her head to the side, exposing her throat. The child vampire assaulted her mentally before she did physically, and Triona tried to flee into her mind, but there was no escape. "You won't be brave for much longer, little mortal," were the last words Triona heard before the agony of Divia's fangs piercing her throat drove away all rational thought, leaving nothing but terror and torment for what seemed like an eternity.