It was now full night, one moon fully visible from their bedroom window, shining over the Vermilion Sea below. Propped up on one elbow, he leaned down, brushing his lips across her shoulder. Smiling up at him, her mental essence brushed against his thoughts like gentle waves across the sands. Grinning, he said, "Let the interrogation begin."
"It'll keep," she said quite unexpectedly, rolling away from him. She snagged her kimono from the edge of the bed, putting it on as she crossed the room, stopping in front of the large windows that looked out past the deck to the ocean below.
Methos creased his brow, perplexed. Not at all like her to give up so easily, especially when he was willing to actually assuage her curiosity. Following her path, he stood behind her, smoothing down her tousled hair. Sighing, she leaned into his touch. "Since when?" he said softly against her ear.
Shrugging, she said, "I was just giving you a hard time before. Your tales of twins, hallucinogens, and other varied licentious behavior can remain safely between you and Captain Sparrow.
"Understanding of you," he remarked dryly, grasping her shoulders and turning her around to face him.
"Mmm... well." She shrugged again, not quite meeting his eyes
"And I don't believe it for a second." When she wouldn't look at him, he took her chin between thumb and forefinger, tilting her face up to meet his eyes. "So tell me the real reason," he said peremptorily.
"For god's sake, Methos! Make up your mind! You obviously weren't keen on telling me before, so because I'm trying to be considerate of your feelings, I'm suddenly lying?" She wrenched away from his grasp, pushing past him.
"That's not going to work either." He grabbed her upper arm, stopping her.
Triona's breath exploded in frustration. "What exactly is it that isn't going to work?"
"Trying to start a fight so I'll be distracted. I know all your little tricks too, dearest one," he said smugly. But rather than the reaction he was expecting, she instead slumped her shoulders, not even trying to break free. Methos pulled her against his chest, enfolding her in his embrace. "Remember we agreed that there would be no more secrets?"
She pulled away from him, and this time, he let her go. Though they'd reconciled ten months ago, there were still moments when things didn't quite fit. Years of damage couldn't be wiped away in months. He sighed softly, deciding to give her space. So instead of following her back to the window where she once again stood, he sat on the bed, leaning against the headboard. "I guess I picked the right vantage point for that window." There was no response. "Because you spend so much time looking out of it," he elaborated.
She shook her head, but stayed where she was.
"However, you may have noticed that there's a similar view from right here," he patted the mattress enthusiastically, "not to mention, it's much more comfortable."
"You don't say?" Triona looked over her shoulder, raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, yes -- absolutely positive. In fact, I guarantee it." He held out a hand, his voice taking on a wheedling tone, "Money back if you're not completely satisfied!"
Turning, she laughed outright. "You are such goofball!"
"All part of the package." Methos grinned, taking her hand as she walked over to the bed. He drew her down, settling her against him, entwining his legs with hers. "See?"
"Mmm..." She inclined her head to look up at him. "It is fairly comfortable."
"I'm so glad you approve," he said as he leaned down to kiss her. "I know I do."
"Do you? Really?" Triona took his hand in hers, fiddling with his fingers.
He was nonplussed at her question. But before he could respond, she continued in a rush, "Is it enough? Am I enough? The life you've led... I wonder if you aren't bored with me, with our life here, if that's part of why our marriage fell apart."
"Whoa!" Methos twisted around so he could look at her. "Where on earth is this coming from?" Of all the things he expected her to say, this was not on the list. "After 367 years of marriage---"
"368," she interjected.
"368," he amended, rolling his eyes, "year of marriage, you suddenly have the idea that you don't please me?"
"It isn't a sudden idea," she said softly.
"Isn't a sudden..." He shook his head in disbelief.
"I've had a lot of time to think about it. Not just the year we were apart, but the years leading up to it. Despite everything, in a lot of ways, I've led a rather sheltered life." She looked up at him, as if expecting him to interrupt again, but when he didn't, she continued, "I was more interested in science projects than boys when I was a teenager, and then I was suddenly a mother at twenty-four when Stephanie became my ward. The few men that I even attempted to date, Stephanie drove off in short order. And then..." Dropping her eyes she shook her head.
"And then you met LaCroix," he finished.
Nodding, she continued, "And despite, well... everything, I was still sheltered. Lucien treated me like a hothouse flower for the most part, cutting me off from the outside world. The day you walked into my life was like a door opening."
"And here we are." Methos brushed his fingers across her pale cheek. Though getting to 'here' hadn't been easy. So many times along the path had they stumbled that the life they had now was something that shouldn't be. And yet, despite everything, it was.
"Even when I left to deal with, what did you call it, my 'Immortal midlife crisis'? I didn't do anything wild or crazy, I went to Vulcan to study their mental disciplines!"
"I can't say I'm entirely unhappy with that choice." Shrugging, he added, "You know that I'm a possessive man."
"When you and Jack were talking, it reminded me all over again of the life you've led. Remember you told me that there was a part of you that always felt that I didn't really need you? I guess I have a similar little voice that tells me that you'll tire of me one day."
"Believe me when I tell you that sex has never been a part of any problems we've had in the past."
"Are you sure? Because I would understand if you wanted to... I don't know ... travel, like you used to with Lucien, and Jack. Find some diversions on Risa or the Rim worlds. Some place that isn't here."
Methos laughed softly. "My darling, while I appreciate your permission for future infidelity, it isn't necessary, nor," he kissed her firmly, "is it reciprocated. As for diversions, you're quite diverting enough."
"No, no buts, Triona! I know how it must sound sometimes, the stories about my past, about Lucien's past, but they're only stories, love; despite what it may seem like. And no brief encounter, no matter how enjoyable it might have been at the time, compares to belonging somewhere, to someone," he brushed his lips across hers, "being loved."
She didn't look like she quite believed him. "You are so young," he said softly. "I know you hate it when Lucien or I tell you so, but it's true." Holding her against him when she would have pulled away, he whispered, "Don't be angry, it wasn't meant as such."
Relenting, she leaned against him. "And you wonder why I think as I do when you persist in telling me how young I am? I'll always be young to you! Do you ever take me seriously, or are you just humouring me?"
"You know better," he said firmly.
"You should." His lips brushed her cheek. "Don't pout."
"Why not?" she asked acidly. "Isn't that what the young do?"
He laughed outright. "Would it help you to know that I've always taken you far more seriously than when I first met Mac, when he wasn't much older than you are now?" Holding her reassuringly, he said, "It's just a matter of perspective, one you're too young to have yet. A few decades, or a few centuries from now, we'll go off together; you and I, Lucien, perhaps Stephanie, and we'll travel the galaxy as we used to travel Earth in ages past. There's time for everything, Triona, I promise you."
"Even licentious behavior under the influence of varied hallucinogens?"
"Even that, if you wish."
She pulled away gently, turning to face him. "And you promise you'll tell me if you ever need time apart, if it's a year from now or a century from now?"
Reaching out, he stroked her hair. "I swear." Taking her hand, he looked at her intently. "Now you need to tell me something. Just when did you start to doubt yourself? Doubt what we have together?"
Shrugging, with a pensive expression on her face, she chewed at her lower lip. Finally she said, "I think it all coalesced after the alien probe on the Enterprise. All the problems we'd been having... I don't know, in a way it was a catalyst. Not just losing the baby, but having a window into Lucien's past. Actually living it. It just made me feel even more inadequate. I know it hurt you when I didn't tell you what happened, that it was Lucien who had to tell you, but I wasn't sure who I was anymore and I couldn't explain that to you. The only two people that could really understand were Lucien and Jean-Luc, and I thought you'd be angry if I admitted that to you. So instead, I shut you out, and made everything worse."
Shaking his head sadly, he said, "I'm sorry. I let my own fears haunt me."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you know what my first thought was when Lucien told me what happened? It was what if I'd been the one with you on the Enterprise, not LaCroix? What if it had been my past you'd been forced to relive?" Clenching his jaw, he looked up at the ceiling. "And in that state of mind, I assumed that was why you hadn't told me about what happened."
"How stupid am I not to have realized that?" She laid her hands against either side of his face. "And that's why you assumed I was having an affair with Jean-Luc, isn't it?"
"Someone safe and without a past. A decent, honourable man." He said the last bitterly; what a fool he'd been.
"You are such an idiot!" Exasperated, she glared at him, crossing her arms. "Oh yes, I'm so young, blah, blah, blah! Well guess what, oh ancient one? Has it ever occurred to you that you think things to death? Honestly!"
He blinked, absorbing the abrupt change in mood. She'd gone from pensive to irate in less than sixty seconds. "Triona..." he began only to be cut off.
"No! Shut up and listen to me for once in your life," she snapped. "It wasn't you with me that day on the Enterprise. We have enough problems without you borrowing trouble don't you think? Dear god, Methos! Do you think I angst over whatever it was you did 4000 bloody years ago? Do you? Seriously? Well get over yourself, because I don't!"
"Okay," was all he could manage, rather stunned at her words and her sudden anger.
"Okay? Okay? Is that the best you can do?" Shaking her head in disgust, she practically threw herself off the bed, pacing in agitation.
"What exactly were you looking for?" he asked more than a little acerbically.
"Don't even try that sarcastic crap with me, Methos." She pointed at him accusingly. "No more!" Now she was shouting. "You either live with me in the here and now, or you can run off with Jack Sparrow and live in the past, do you hear me?"
"I rather think the entire planet can hear you," he observed dryly.
Picking up a pillow from the chair next to the bed, she hurled it at him. Batting it aside, he held up his hands placatingly. "Please don't hurt me," he said, trying very hard not to laugh at the look of outrage on her face. Getting up, he went to her, taking her hands in his. "You're right," he whispered. At her look of suspicion, he added, "You know what they say: from the mouths of babes." He knew she would have hit him if he hadn't been holding onto her. Methos bit his lips hard, trying to hold back the mirth that threatened to overwhelm him as years of stress and conflict seemed to finally melt away in the absolute irony of the moment.
"Don't you dare laugh at me!"
"I would never!" he protested.
"Lying bastard," she grumbled.
"Hey! No aspersions on my parentage thank you!"
Her lips twitched and she relaxed against him. "Whatever am I going to do with you?"
"Oh, I'm sure I can come up with something," he assured her, his hands roaming her body possessively.
"You don't believe me?" He kissed her before she could reply. "Tomorrow night, we have a date. You, me, Lucien, absinthe and laudanum." Triona looked at him in surprise. "Why put off for decades what we can experience now?"
"The here and now?"
"The here and now," he agreed. "From now on. I promise."
Triona watched the sun rise behind the bulk of Imladris in the horizon from her vantage point overlooking the ocean on the Ithilien moon. She pulled her green velvet Edwardian styled frock coat a little closer around herself as the early morning wind buffeted at her. She was glad she'd decided to go with boots, a long wool skirt and long sleeved, high-necked blouse in the same style as the coat she wore - it was cold out here on the cliffs!
It had been four days since her interview with Captain Sparrow, and the time had come for him to discover his fate. Right on cue, the whine of the transporter sounded over the crash of the surf, followed quickly by the sensation of another Immortal. Turning, she watched as her guest carefully took in his surroundings before turning his attention to Triona. He was a damned handsome man, she noted; especially clothed in something other than the hot pink prisoner jumpsuit she'd seen him in last. His personal effects had been returned to him, and he was now dressed in a cream shirt and dark brown pants tucked into over-the-knee boots of weathered brown leather. Over it all, he was wearing a coat somewhat similar in style to the one Triona wore, except in a heavy cloth of some alien origin, the deep burgundy colour of which had faded with time and wear.
"Good morning, Captain Sparrow," she greeted him with a friendly smile. "Did you and Benjamin have a nice breakfast?" The pirate had started his day with Methos and breakfast at the main house on Imladris before being transferred to Triona's custody in Ithilien.
Walking towards her, still looking wary, he replied, "I did, Minister, but I haven't quite decided which of you is the good cop, and which the bad."
She laughed. "Be sure and tell me when you figure it out, won't you, Captain?"
A slight smile touched his lips as he joined her at the cliff edge, looking out over the ocean. "It is a beautiful system," he admitted.
"We like it."
Looking at her sidelong, he sighed. "My compliments, Minister, on your taking me and my crew. It was a fine piece of work."
"For a bureaucrat?" she asked, amused.
The pirate captain grimaced a bit at that. "And my apologies for taking your ship."
"Well, I suppose it was something of a compliment - after all, she really is a very pretty ship." Turning to him, she held out her hand. "Apology accepted, Captain Sparrow."
Taking the proffered hand, he raised it to his lips instead of shaking it. "My thanks, Minister."
"I think Triona will do."
Nodding, he said, "Jack."
"So, Jack, I'm sure you're wondering why you're here."
"Doc did mention you had an offer for me that he suggested I consider with the greatest seriousness."
"I do indeed. I'm prepared to accept your parole, no prison colony, no extradition to any of the governments you're currently wanted by."
Now he looked like he was about to walk into a trap. "In exchange for?"
"Why, the next five years of your life, Captain Sparrow." Looking at him gravely, she waved away his incipient protest. "For the next five years, you're mine. You do what I tell you, you go where I say. You tell our intelligence directorate everything, and I do mean everything, you know about the Orion Syndicate. In exchange, at the end of the five years, you'll be granted Imladrin citizenship, a new identity, a fresh start, and a ship of your own."
She could see the thoughts racing through his head as he pondered her offer. Then he looked at her slyly. "The Alqualondë"?"
"Captain Sparrow, you'd have to make me very happy indeed for me to give you that ship!" She laughed. "But points for absolute cheek."
He tilted his head, saying softly, "Oh, I have no doubt I could make you very happy, Triona."
"Jack, Jack," she scolded. "I'd suggest you sideline that particular strategy before you even start. While I'm flattered, do I need to remind you that Benjamin is a very possessive man, and is very good with a sword?"
Jack shook his head slightly, eyes smiling. "Happily married, eh?"
"Ah, well, you can't blame a man for trying, now can you, lass?"
Rolling her eyes, she didn't reply. He really was just like the man from the tales of her childhood. Wenches, rum, and swag. She found the thought rather comforting in an odd sort of way. Beginning to walk, she indicated that Jack follow. "Something else to think about," she said a few minutes later as they crested the rise before them. "Down there." She pointed to a small settlement and harbour below them. Then she directed his gaze farther out to sea. "That's the IS Endeavour," she said as they watched the four masted sailing ship draw closer. "Not a pirate ship, I'm afraid, but a training vessel for our academy cadets."
Jack watched the ship with a professional eye. "They're running too much sail into the wind" he noted. "But she's a lovely vessel." There was a note of longing in his voice that he couldn't entirely mask.
"And she needs a captain." She paused a moment, letting her statement sink in, then, "I was hoping you might know of someone willing to be her master."
For once, he looked totally surprised. "Me?" More than surprised; shocked.
"That was the idea," she commented dryly. "You'd have free reign - as long as it's legal, of course - the crew you want, administering the cadet training program. There's a great deal of this moon left to be explored the old fashioned way. Think of the discoveries you could make!"
"You want me to captain a ship for academy cadets? Your cadets?"
"Oh, come now, Jack! Surely you can't resist the irony of a pirate captain shaping the young minds of Imladris' future?"
He looked down at her, quirking a brow. "You are a very strange woman, Triona."
"You have no idea." She smirked. "I can guarantee you'll never be bored. Where else will you get an offer like that?"
"Five years, you say?" Nodding to himself, he once more looked out to sea. Reaching a decision, he turned to Triona holding out his hand. "We have an accord, Minister."
Taking his hand in a firm grip, she shook it. "To fair sailing, Captain Sparrow, to fair sailing."
If you enjoyed the story, please let me know! [insert pathetic begging] And thanks so much for reading! :)