Ith (ithildyn) wrote,

DVD Commentary: Takasago's Pines - Part One

jinxed_wood  requested I do this one. And since it’s one of my favourites, I was happy to comply! It was a two part story, so here's the first bit. Part two to follow at some point. Sorry if I got a little angsty and overly wordy.

The commentary on this one gives me a chance to fill in some bits here and there. With a series of stories that been added to since 1996, there's a lot of back story. So I appreciate all of you who have leapt in at this late date :) I'm always happy to answer questions, or point you in the direction of the fic that answers those questions.

So on with the bonus features!

Takasago’s Pines
c. 2006


Like the morning moon,
Cold, unpitying was my love.
And since we parted,
I dislike nothing so much
As the breaking light of day.

~ Mibu no Tadamine


Let’s talk about the poetry first. I love Japanese poetry, and while I was writing this, I was on a kick, reading lots of what’s called “death poetry”. So many of the poems seemed to fit into the mood of what I was writing, so I decided to utilize some of them. This one is Triona’s. It fits so well into what she’s feeling now, and the added bonus – the breaking light of day. Not something someone with a vampire mutation would look forward to.

Part One

“What the hell are you doing here, Triona?” Methos demanded, standing in the doorway of his Paris apartment.

With some effort she bit back an angry response, glancing at Amanda, who was standing just behind him rolling her eyes and making strangling motions with her hands. Taking a deep breath, she pushed past him. “I’m selling Girl Guide cookies! Any more stupid questions?”

The door closed none too gently behind her. “Very amusing.”

I’ve been writing this paring for about a decade now, and to say it’s never smooth sailing would be an understatement. It had been awhile since I wrote fic that took place over this particular span of time, so it was interesting revisiting it. And I’d never worked anything in to an existing HL episode.

Amanda came over, kissing her on the cheek. “Hey, honey.”

Hugging the older woman, Triona whispered, “I see he’s in a mood.”

She laughed softly. “You could say that.”

Grabbing Triona’s arm, he pulled her around, the two of them facing off with matching glares. “You shouldn’t be here. We had an agreement---“

“No!” she cut him off. “You and Duncan had an agreement! I don’t recall being consulted, let alone agreeing, to this ridiculous arrangement!”

“I think that’s my cue to go,” Amanda said. “You two have fun!”

Amanda knows when it’s time to make an exit!

He shot her a look. “Amanda---“

“I’m not going to rat you out to Duncan!” With a smug look, Amanda added, “especially since this was my idea!” Before Methos could muster a response she waved cheerily. “Call me about that little problem, darling!” And with that she was gone.

The sudden silence was deafening. Triona’s earlier bravado had faded into nervousness. She’d known he was going to be irritated with her for showing up on his doorstep, but she hadn’t expected anger. Maybe letting Amanda talk her into this hadn’t been the best idea she’d had lately. And maybe her deepest fear had every reason for being; that thought whispered its way across her consciousness like so much poison.

She’d screwed herself up into finally confronting Methos, but on reflection, she’s wondering if this was really such a great idea. Maybe ignorance is bliss.

She’d been miserable in the weeks following Duncan’s ultimatum that Methos stay away if Duncan were to continue as her teacher. Not just because of his conditions, but the tension and stress that had resulted from Methos and Duncan’s estrangement. It was like a weight dragging them all down. So when she’d told Amanda how unhappy she’d been when the two had met for dinner a few nights before, it hadn’t taken much for the older Immortal to convince her young friend to do what Triona wanted -- not what the two men wanted.

I’ve never really had a chance to explore the early friendship between Triona and Amanda. I was able to touch upon it a bit here.

Sighing tiredly, she rubbed her eyes. Well, there was no help for it. It was too close to dawn for her to leave now -- not that the timing hadn’t seemed like the perfect plan before. You’ve been hanging around Methos and LaCroix too long, she chided herself. Getting just a tad manipulative, aren’t you? Pushing aside her lecturing little voice, she took off her coat, tossing it over a nearby chair. “I missed you too, Methos,” she said with an edge she couldn’t quite soften. Instead of looking at him, she stared fixedly at the metal sculpture in the corner.

Coming near to dawn, she knew she’d have to stay, that Methos couldn’t find an excuse to make her leave. She’s realizing that she’s picking up some bad habits from the men in her life.

“Come here, Triona,” he commanded softly.

Briefly, she considered ignoring him, but thought better of it. She didn’t want to fight with him, not now. Complying, arms wrapped tightly around herself, she looked up at him defiantly. “If you’re going to yell at me, then go ahead! But I’m not sorry I came!”

Shaking his head resignedly he pulled her to him sharply. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“So you keep saying,” she replied with an attempt at nonchalance. Triona could feel how tensely he was holding himself.

Methos doing the ‘you’ll do what I say’ thing. Most times, it would degenerate into a fight, a test of wills. But this time, she’s going to try and keep things on an even keel.


“Duncan doesn’t scare me! What’s he going to do? Glower at me?”

This bit still makes me laugh [g] Triona isn’t going to find any mood of Duncan’s in the least bit scary.

He laughed, but it wasn’t a happy sound. “That isn’t what I want to hear.” His hands tightened around her upper arms.

“Well, life is full of little disappointments, isn’t it?” she sniped. She wanted to wrest out of his grip, but forced herself to calm. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t had plenty of practice controlling her emotions over the last few years. Forcing out her breath, she made herself relax.

“And what about me, Triona? Do I scare you?” The hands tightened a little more.

Methos, on the other hand, does have the ability to scare her. And it makes her angry that he can

Looking him straight in the eye, she asked in return, “Is that what you’d like? To drive me away too?” Something flashed in his eyes, and then he was pushing her away, stalking across the room. Nearly stumbling at the unexpectedness of his action, she clenched her hands into fists, eyes following him. “You should know by now, I don’t frighten that easily!”

His hand paused on the wardrobe door. “And you think that’s a good thing?” Again, the humourless laugh.

Years spent as a mortal in the Vampire community had left her with a very high fear threshold. She knew very well that Methos thought she hadn’t even the sense God gave her when it came to walking away from situations that anyone else wouldn’t have even approached in the first place. When it came right down to it, that was the story of her life.

There she goes, pushing again. You see how long her resolve to keep things calm lasted, huh? Triona doesn’t have nearly the self-preservation instinct that Methos wants her to have. She’s faced down vampires, so what’s an immortal with a sword? Not a good attitude to have as far as he’s concerned.

Opening the wardrobe, he pulled out a pile of clothes, quickly dressing. Triona stayed where she was, watching him silently. Finally she said, “I certainly didn’t expect my presence to drive you out of your apartment.” No, you expected many things, but not this. Fool.

Catching her gaze briefly, he hung his head, arms akimbo. “It’s not like that.”

“Isn’t it?” Her voice shook a little. She’d hoped they’d moved past the events of the last year. Obviously, she’d been wrong. The last weeks had brought the inescapable realization that this arrangement with Mac suited Methos quite well. Keeping her out of the way so he didn’t have to deal with her for as long as possible. But she couldn’t live her life like this anymore. If this was the end, then Methos needed to tell her so, once and for all.

He won’t let her in. And the more she loves him, the more she can’t accept being shut out of his life. The realization that he’s using Duncan’s demands as an excuse to push her even farther away is killing her.

“No, it isn’t. I just have to be somewhere.” Sighing, he moved closer. “We’ll talk when I come back.” Still, he wouldn’t meet her eyes.

Something was going on -- what was he hiding? “It’s something to do with why Amanda was here, isn’t it?” she demanded. “The ‘little problem’. Whatever it is, it’s something that’s just happened, otherwise she would have never convinced me to come here tonight.”

“I need to talk to MacLeod,” he finally admitted.

“You need to talk to Duncan? You haven’t seen me in weeks, but you need to see him right this instant? The same Duncan who has treated you like a pariah?” Shaking her head, she demanded, “What the hell is going on, Methos?”

He eyed her appraisingly for a few moments before deciding to tell her what she wanted to know. Eyes widening in disbelief as Methos explained the situation with Stephen Keane and Amanda’s concern that Duncan was going to get himself killed, Triona sank into a nearby chair. “So I’m going to go talk to the pig-headed Scot and try and make him see reason,” he finished.

“You’ve lost your mind! That’s it isn’t it? The stress of the last few months has addled your wits!” She shook her head, trying to process what he’d told her.

“Why? Just because I’m going to talk to him?”

“No, because you know as well as I do that it’s pointless! And if you know that, then you have something else in mind, and you’re insane!” Jumping out of the chair, she started to pace around in circles.

She knows he’s going to get into the middle between Duncan and Keane, and it baffles her. As fond as she is of Duncan, she’s also very angry at the way he’s treated Methos since he’s found out about his past. She doesn’t think Duncan deserves Methos’ concern right now.

“You’re borrowing trouble, Triona!”

“The hell I am! No, never mind!” she forestalled his reply. “You want me to believe that, then fine, but tell me why you even care? Why, Methos? You are the last person to put yourself in the middle of someone else’s problem, and yet here you are, ready to do just that. And for what? You don’t owe Duncan anything!” What on earth had possessed him? This wasn’t normal, not at all. But nothing had been normal since that morning she’d walked into the sitting room in Ontario to find him with LaCroix, drunk and lost. The morning he’d stopped being Adam Pierson forever.

She met him as Adam Pierson, just after Alexa died. And even though she knew his real name early on, he was still ‘Adam’ for the most part. As time has gone on, he’s become more and more Methos. The day he came back to Ontario, to LaCroix, after Bordeaux, Adam was gone.

“Don’t I?” was asked with no emotion, the words hanging in the silence.

“No!” That one word exploded from her, all the fear and anguish she felt held in it. “Why are you doing this to yourself? What have you ever been than a friend to him? Dear god, you left Alexa’s side when she was dying to help him! To save him from himself! When the hell did Duncan MacLeod earn the right to be your judge and jury?” She turned away, hands at her sides, fingers held like claws. “And just when did you decide he should be?” Triona’s voice broke on the last.

She shivered in the blooming light of the dawn – his chill or hers? She couldn’t tell anymore. If she walked into the shaft of light moving up the windows across from her, the chill would be gone. Then she would burn. But it would only be a fleeting sensation. She would heal, and the chill, the cold, would return once more. With great effort she forced back the desperate thoughts, looked away from the sun’s beckoning embrace.

She’s so scared for him. I was trying to convey the weight of the emotion in the room, that stepping into the sun, burning, was preferable to what she was feeling now. She’s angry at Duncan, at Methos, and probably most of all, herself. And then there’s the grief. The grief for what Methos has lost, for what they’ve both lost. For what might be lost forever.

Finally, his words pulled her away from where her mind had strayed. “He let me live, Triona.” Now he stood right behind her, his voice so quiet that it barely brushed her senses.

Trembling, she could feel his breath against her hair. Never had she been more thankful she didn’t share a mental bond with Methos as she did with LaCroix. The intensity was smothering enough as it was. Feeling it, experiencing it, would have surely broken her. She wasn’t strong enough.

A bit of foreshadowing there, as it was that very link, that bond, that they would have in a few months in the future, that would tear them apart.

“Cassandra would have taken my head.” His hand rested now against the back of her neck as he leaned in, lips brushing against her hair. “He asked for my life.”

Choking back a sob, she fought the urge to pull away. It was like suffocating. His nearness, his touch; there was nothing she could say. There weren’t the words for this, nor would there ever be. Now she leaned into him, letting out her breath slowly, closing her eyes as his arms slipped around her, holding her as if she might break if he held her too tightly. The steady beat of his heart against her back calmed her. For just a moment, she could forget reality and hold him close to her soul.

Then he was turning her around, tilting her head up, searching her eyes. “Do you still trust me?” It shocked her to realize he didn’t seem to know the answer. “I know you love me, but trust? Can you still trust me, Triona?”

She wanted to scream, furious at him for asking such a thing. But instead, she replied with a simple, “Yes.” There was no need for her to consider her answer – it had never changed. From the moment she’d opened the door to see him standing there that first time, through every grief, every sorrow, till this moment, the answer had only ever been yes. Holding her gaze a few moments longer, he finally nodded, as if accepting what she said. Whether he truly did or not, she had no real idea; could only hope it was so.

How can there really be words? For the man you love telling you about his past, the past Methos had? When you know he isn’t that man anymore, yet still bears the scars of what he’s done? When he can’t quite accept that it’s possible for him to be loved despite it all? It’s easier for Methos to accept Duncan rejecting him than it is for him to accept that Triona loves him. And trusts him. And she will continue to trust him till the day he shatters that trust. But that day’s still to come

As if by some silent accord, they parted. Triona once more sat in the chair she’d vacated only a few minutes before, while Methos picking up his sword, went to the closet, pulling out his coat and placing the weapon in its harness.

“He won’t thank you for being a busybody, you know.” Her voice sounded normal now. Calm, matter-of-fact.

That’s an understatement!

This time when he looked at her, he seemed more like himself, a smile half-forming on his lips. “I’m sure he won’t; he’s too much of a pain in the ass to appreciate my wisdom.” Now he really was smiling. He went to the front door, pulling it open. “Try and keep yourself amused while I’m gone.”

“Methos!” She stopped him, running across the room to hug him fiercely. “Don’t be long, okay?” That was all she said, knowing that he already knew all the things she didn’t say; couldn’t say.

Nodding, he kissed her softly, smiling as he walked out the door.


She stared at the closed door for a time before purposefully turning away. Wandering absently around the living area, she ran her fingers across the furniture as she passed. Everywhere there were piles of books and journals. If Methos wasn’t reading, he was writing, and everywhere he went he left the evidence of his favourite pastimes strewn in little piles all over, like fallen leaves in autumn.

I liked that image, of fallen leaves

Picking up one of the brown leather-bound books, she let it fall open, scanning the pages. If it was written in a language she could actually read, she was free to do so. Triona knew that Methos saw it as a sort of game between them; motivation for her to learn new languages so she could read his journals. So far he hadn’t succeeded. French, Latin, and Japanese, in varying levels of competency, suited her well enough for the moment. This however, she couldn’t read – some sort of Greek she thought. Flipping a few more pages, she came across two photographs, face down, with words in Japanese written across them. This she could read.

I could see Methos using his journals as bait for scholarship and her resisting [g] Just because she’s stubborn. French, and Latin, she learned in school, and then improved upon them since French is the language that LaCroix’s ‘family’ operates under a great deal if the time. Latin, because it’s LaCroix’s native tongue, and Japanese, that I didn’t know till I wrote this. She can still surprise me, even after all these years!

Her father’s company had assigned him to their Kyoto office when she was ten, and they’d lived in Japan for the next five years before moving back home to Vancouver. In college, she’d continued to study the language. When she’d started working, several of her clients had been based in Japan, and she had spent a great deal of time traveling back and forth for several years. While she spoke the language quite well, reading the characters was more of a challenge. She picked up the first one. It was a poem, one she recognized:

Triona, in case you didn’t know, was a very successful investment banker, before she got mixed up with vampires. It would make sense that she had clients in Japan and traveled back and forth a lot.

‘Alone in bed
her image clearly comes--
I can see her long hair,
feel it smooth
to the touch of my palms.’

Another poem. I loved the imagery of this one. I liked the idea of Methos having photos in between the pages of his journals. In Forever Knight, there are several times where there are ‘family photos’ of LaCroix, Janette, and Nick. And I used the photo thing before in a few of the stories in this series. Back when Methos and Triona first met, there was a photo of Triona and Janette on the piano, and one of Triona and Stephanie. In some of the Star Trek set stories, Picard picks up a photo of Spock as a boy with Triona. And there’s a photo of Lucia on Triona’s desk on the ‘Scotia’. I liked the idea of family touches even for immortals.

She turned the photo over. “I didn’t even know he had this,” she whispered into the quiet. Amanda must have given it to him. It had been taken several months ago, just before everything had gone to hell. Duncan had invited them all for dinner, and Amanda had a new camera that she was intent on playing with. Methos had threatened to take it away if she didn’t stop flashing the wretched contraption into his eyes. Triona and Duncan, a little tired of the flash themselves, had applauded Methos on as he made good on his threat. Amanda pouted and wheedled, but she didn’t get her camera back till the end of the evening. While Methos had possession, he’d taken a few pictures himself, except much more quietly, and without the flash going off. This photo was of her in profile, leaning against the wall, staring out the window into the dark. She hadn’t even realized he’d taken it.

And I could just see Amanda with a new camera, setting off the flash and making everyone crazy! Beyond that, a touch of a normal life – dinner with friends, companionship, simple pleasure in the everyday things of life

Laying it back on the pages of the journal, she picked up the second photo, translating once again. Another poem:

‘Whom then are there now,
In my age (so far advanced)
I can hold as friends?
Even Takasago's pines
Are not friends of former days.’

The poem the title of the story comes from. There were actually several translations for this one, and that’s the one I chose (here’s an alternate:
Who is still alive
When I have grown so old
That I can call my friends?
Even Takasago's pines
No longer offer comfort.)

It seemed to fit the mood, Methos, his great age, his sorrows, so well.

Her throat tightened as she turned it over. This time it was a group photo: Duncan, with Amanda on his lap, Triona sitting next to them, her legs tucked under her. They were all laughing; a moment of friendship and joy captured. Would it ever be that way again? Shaking her head, she blinked back the tears that threatened as she placed the photo back the way she’d found it, closing the journal and setting it back on top of the pile. Fitting she supposed, that the only outlet he seemed to find for his grief was in the written word. Now she truly understood LaCroix’s words just before she’d left for France….

A taste of what he’s lost, of what they’ve both lost. And in an eye blink. One night, they’re having dinner, and a few nights later, Methos is a Horseman of the Apocalypse. And he can’t talk about it, so he writes.

---> Flashback! [g]

Ontario, Canada, a few months before

“He is just a man. For all his great age, he has a man’s sorrows, a man’s hopes, and a man’s fears.” The sound of his voice melded with the wind that blew off the lake.

It takes a 2000 year old vampire to state ‘he’s just a guy’. And he is, at its most basic. As LaCroix says, he has a man’s sorrows, hopes and fears.

She didn’t turn, just nodded, wrapping her coat tighter around herself as she stared out over the water. It wasn’t a surprise that LaCroix had come to her here. It was impossible to shield the tempest of her emotions from the ancient vampire, so she hadn’t even tried.

The last day had been exhausting, beginning that morning with the unexpected discovery of Methos sitting with LaCroix. Then came the revelation of his past, why he’d sent her back to Toronto, what had happened over the last few weeks. His grief over having had to kill his old companion Silas, and Duncan’s seeming inability to accept his past, letting it overshadow their relationship here in the present. He’d fully expected that she would react similarly, and that expectation had made her weep inwardly for his hurt. But outwardly, she’d carefully erected a visage of calm, not letting her own uncertainties touch her reactions. In the years she’d known Methos, he’d slowly, almost imperceptibly, thrown off ‘Adam Pierson’, but the remnants had still been there, enough so that the realization this morning that Adam was truly gone had been one she was still grappling with. She’d left Methos, who had finally fallen into an exhausted sleep in the hours just before dawn, needing time alone in the cold and wind to try to settle the worry and sorrow that plagued her thoughts.

She’s walking the knife’s edge. Trying to be strong for the man she loves, yet dealing with the kick in the stomach that had come with all his revelations. Her life has been a rollercoaster the last few years, and now, this. Never did she imagine this past existed.

“That’s why he came here; because he is only ever Methos to you.” It was the truth. One she accepted. But it still hurt, knowing that he had come here seeking refuge in the comforting familiarity of his relationship with the ancient Roman vampire -- that her presence had been secondary, if even that. In fact, he hadn’t even wanted to see her, had said so. But LaCroix had had other ideas.

And the other shoe. She doesn’t look away from the painful truth. Methos came back for LaCroix, not for her. I really liked the idea of ‘He’s only ever Methos to you’. To everyone else, Methos is Adam, or some mixture of Adam and Methos. Only to LaCroix is he truly Methos, someone he’s known for 2000 years, who’s family in the truest sense of the word. That acceptance is something he’s grabbing on to right now. But how it hurts to acknowledge the truth of that.

He didn’t deny her words. Instead, he said, “I know you have long wondered why he has never fully let you into his life, but it was not my tale to tell. I was never able to convince him that he could reveal all to you, that he was safe here with us. His fear was that even if you accepted his past, that he would lose your trust.” The vampire placed a hand on her shoulder. “Give him time to adjust. He has spent more than two thousand years knowing that Kronos was out there, somewhere, and would find him again one day; even if he rarely allowed himself to consciously acknowledge that fact.”

Finally, she turned, looking up at him. “I will give him whatever he needs, whatever he wants, but I don’t think he’s going to let me. I’ll wake up one morning, and he’ll be gone. That’s his defense mechanism, you know that better than I. Leaving anyone and anything that makes him feel vulnerable, that makes him care. Leaving the people who love him.”

LaCroix looked thoughtful. “I do not think that will be the case this time,” he placed a finger across Triona’s lips when she would speak, “and even if it is, you must remember, child, for us, for him, nothing is forever. Even if years pass, trust you will find him again. That is the way of our world.”

Closing her eyes, she nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She knew what he said was true, but still had yet to feel the reality of her immortality in her soul. “I should go back. I don’t want him to wake up alone.”

To be a young immortal – how long does it take to actually realize what that means? To realize what LaCroix’s telling her is true – that even if a few centuries go by, they’ll meet again.

LaCroix stroked her cheek with one cool finger. “Trust in yourself, Triona. With patience, love, and time, I promise you, all will be well….”

Part Two is Here

Tags: dvd commentary, fic, fic rambles, series: 'bloodties'

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