Cast your eye on the ocean,
Cast your soul to the sea,
When the dark night seems endless,
Please remember me.
~from Dante's Prayer, music and lyrics by Loreena McKennitt~
A Wake for the Past Millennium
Island of Niebos, Greece 2003
Eleanor leaned on the rail of the ferry and watched as the small private island of Niebos grew in her sight. It looked much the same as it always had since she had first seen it almost two hundred years before. Only the means of transportation to this small jewel of an island had changed. That and perhaps the size of the village huddled at the foot of the mountain on the harbor side of the island.
Her immortal friend Phillip had called this place home since he had finished purchasing the last of the land almost two hundred years ago. But Phillip had been a part of Niebos and its secrets for over two millennia.
Eleanor shook her head, even with her great age, she still had trouble with Phillip's greater age. He was the Peter Pan of her life... the immortal who never seemed to grow up... an immortal who had always searched for a good time and his next drink for as long as she had known him. Well, things change and time catches us all, she thought. It was because of Phillip that she had come here.
After settling things in the states... after the Highlander, Duncan MacLeod had killed Joaquin Carerra and helped her settle the ten year old Derrick in a foster home, she had vanished from that life as she had always done from all her previous lives... suddenly and mysteriously. She still hoped to keep in touch with Derrick, but that might mean MacLeod as well and Eleanor wasn't certain she could manage that... not yet.
The whole thing about going to him for help had been damned uncomfortable. She had tried so hard not to betray anything... but MacLeod had asked many hard questions... perceptive questions. Questions she was not yet ready to deal with... if she ever would... if she ever could. But he had seen Derrick too... and he had also noticed something about the boy. Maybe it wasn't all in her head after all.
The ferryboat gave a loud wail of its siren as it approached the long stone docks of Niebos. Already Eleanor could see the familiar figure of Phillip on the wharf. She raised her arm to wave a greeting and was met by an enthusiastic two-handed wave of welcome from her friend and teacher.
When she had checked her email account at one of those inter-net cafes there had been two messages. One of them had been a fairly recent one from Methos with only a "?" which she knew meant, "Are you OK? Contact me when ready." She had added his new address to her address book on-line and then deleted the message. She wasn't ready to talk to him any time soon. She was still too angry with him and she did not trust herself. The last time they had been together they had come to blows. She was not eager for another altercation. Best to wait on that.
The other message had been from Phillip. "Carlo dead." That message was four months old. For Eleanor, it was as if a dam had broken. The news had been expected for well over a year... but she hadn't meant to miss it... she had meant to come and support Phillip as he had tried to support her for all these years. But she had missed it. She had been so much on the run that she hadn't checked messages in quite a while. Even if she had, Eleanor wondered if she could have left Derrick then, and extricated herself from the entire Carrera situation. She doubted it. But now, there was nothing to stop her.
"On my way." she had immediately sent and then bought her ticket for Greece with her next internet transaction. So here she was... two days later.
The ferry tied up along the wharf and she waved down again at Phillip who blew kisses and waved at her once more in that gratuitous enthusiasm he always seemed to have. Already Eleanor was looking forward to whatever time together they would have before she pulled up stakes and took off again.
She shouldered the small overnight bag and descended the gangplank to the wharf after the ferry had completely halted. Once on the docks, she ran to meet Phillip who enfolded her in his big bear hug, lifted her briefly off her feet, and with his booming voice welcomed her to "his" island.
He held on to her for a long moment and she held on to him. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here, Phillip... I'm so very sorry for your loss."
"You were here in spirit, Little Sister, you were here." He dropped his arms from around her and held her out to get a better look at her. "Gods, you are far too thin... you look like you haven't eaten in months!"
Eleanor tossed her head and laughed briefly. "Well, you should have seen me a few weeks ago."
Phillips eyes narrowed, "You will tell me all about it later. First, we're off to the villa and a late breakfast. You need to eat something and don't tell me you're fine... I know you too well!" he spoke through her attempt at interrupting him. He did know her well, and that could be both help and hindrance.
She gestured her compliance. He took her bag and hugging her with one of his arms, he led her through the dirt road village and up the hill to the villa he had built so long ago. The whole time he talked about improvements he wanted to make... a new hospital he hoped to build... and the unusual reluctance of the villagers for anything that might change their lives. It was hard to be a landlord sometimes.
He waited until they were halfway up the hill and the ferry had departed to lay the bombshell on her. "Methos will be here, likely on the afternoon ferry. I emailed him you were coming."
Eleanor froze on the road. Phillip patiently stood next to her until she was ready. Then something occurred to her. "He finally told you who he truly was?"
"Last time he was here. He was with a pretty little mortal girl... Alexa. He was quite taken with her."
"Really..." Suddenly Eleanor relaxed. "Did she know...?"
"Oh yes... she even knew his name although she called him Adam the whole time they were here. I do think our ancient friend is mellowing a bit in his old age."
Eleanor laughed suddenly very relieved. "So, he has finally found love. Well I hope he's happy. Will she be coming too?"
Phillip sadly shook his head, "No... she died not long after they were here. I think it almost broke his heart. She was ill even when they were here. She and Carlo used to sit on the terrace in the sunshine and talk about their respective on-coming deaths. He painted her picture while they were here. I sent it to Methos when I heard she'd died."
With those words, Eleanor's ten-year grudge against her former husband, one-time teacher, and some-time lover evaporated. "Then it's a wake for all of us this time... not just for the century past," she said sadly. Leave it to Phillip to put petty quarrels into perspective.
Phillip nodded soberly. "I think it may be for the entire millennium what with this turn of the calendar and all the madness that seems to be going on in the world now."
Eleanor smiled thoughtfully; she knew what Darius would have said to that, "The world is always filled with madness." She sobered and took Phillip's arm once more to resume their climb to the villa, "Then it shall be a grand party this time." But her heart wasn't in her words.
Late that afternoon, the two immortals met their ancient friend at the docks when the afternoon ferry arrived. As usual, Phillip tried to be the bridge between them... the genial host.
Eleanor had let her hate and grudge evaporate... but she still felt uncomfortable and Methos obviously felt the same. He was still the observer... betray nothing he had once taught her. It was a lesson he had also taken to heart far too well. She did not know what he thought. She could not fathom what lay behind that icy exterior.
"Mellowed indeed," she finally murmured and gave him a brief smile.
He chuckled and leaned over to kiss her on the forehead, "Hello Eleanor,
charming as always!" Somehow, it was all going to work out... at least
for the weekend. She no longer thought they would come to blows. Not this
time. But she didn't trust him.
To Each His Garden
Paris, France 1993
Eleanor quietly folded the last of her few clothes and packed them into the soft-sided suitcase. Over at the window, in defiance of all their carefully constructed rules of behavior stood Darius. He was here... it was daylight... and he was in her room.
"You are really going then." He said to her as he stared out the window.
"I have to go... there is so much death and hatred going on in Angola right now. I am needed there as I have not been needed anywhere in years."
"But you only just returned."
"Give me a reason to stay..." But he said nothing. She had known he wouldn't. Eleanor looked about the sparsely furnished room she had spent so many years in. For all of her time here, the room bore no imprint of her personality. It was just a room... a place for her to stay when in town. She shrugged. There really was nothing for her here anymore, if there had ever been.
She closed and locked the bag. "That's it. The taxi should be here soon." She lifted the bag, carried it into the main room and set it near the door. She took a long look around. This was his room and it was filled with many of the treasures she had brought back for him in her journeys over the past eight hundred years. These were the souvenirs that were not quite appropriate to be in his cell across the street. Or the artifacts he simply did not want there... things he did not think would be safe.
Eleanor shrugged. If it made him happy to sneak over here occasionally when she was out of town and do his research in peace... who was she to complain. She had been here so seldom of late. Since 1969, she had not dared to remain anywhere too long. Joaquin Carerra kept showing up and she would not risk his finding out she knew Darius. Darius was far too easy a target. No one knew that better than she did. No... better Angola with its rising tribal warfare... She could vanish there for a while... and she could help. The medical mission was just what she needed to get back into the pattern of her life. And more than anything else, she needed to get back into her life... to be in control as Methos had once taught her.
She glanced up as Darius slowly followed her into the main room. As before, he went over to the window, to keep an eye on his church and an eye on anyone who might walk by... on any immortal who might be seeking him.
"You could come you know... to Angola with me..." It was an old request. She made it every time she left. No matter where she was going... she always asked him to come. It had become ritual... a part of their good-bye to one another. He would always smile and shrug. This was his place. If she wished to visit, she was always welcome here. "They need lots of doctors and other medical personnel... and..." she paused emphatically... "they could even use a priest or two."
Darius chuckled. "Do you ever get tired of asking me to leave?"
"No... But I accept that you won't."
"Perhaps some day I will surprise you."
"Liar!" and she laughed and crossed the room to give him a farewell hug. He held her for a moment longer than he might have and then released her.
"I will miss you, Eleanor, as I always do."
"Ahh... but I will miss you more." Eleanor stood on tiptoe and gave him a brief peck on the cheek. Then she backed away and his hands returned to within his sleeves. Below them in the street, the taxi pulled up. "Now that would be my cue to leave."
She saluted him mockingly and picked up her bag. She paused with her hand on the door. "Don't follow me down. We've said our good-byes and I shall see you soon... perhaps in as little as seven years when my tour in Angola is over. Sooner if you come to see me."
"I must tend my garden." They both smiled at the reference to Candide.
"And I like the child of nature wander hither and fro. Voltaire et Rousseau!" She bowed as though in a performance, smiled, nodded her head in farewell and left. Once again, it was part of the old argument. An argument that these days had become a gentle teasing.
In the street below she had glanced up at him in the window and saw him raise a hand in parting. She could almost hear him say, "Peace be with you, Eleanor." She hoped so. She hoped there would be peace. But she doubted she would ever find it. It was an elusive thing... peace.
It was the last time she had seen him. Methos had arrived in Angola a few months later to tell her Darius was dead. She had sensed his coming and, thinking Darius had finally changed his mind, had turned eagerly to greet him. But it wasn't Darius... it was Methos in his guise as Adam Pierson, mild-mannered researcher for the Watchers. The look on his face told her instantly that something had happened.
"Phillip...?" she had stammered. Methos shook his head sadly. "Then who...?"
Within her, all the voices screamed! "Noooo!" she cried out and collapsed to the ground. "No...no... no!" When he tried to comfort her, she had lashed out, raining ineffective blows on him and screaming her denial! "Liar... liar... liar..."
But he was always the stronger one and held her tightly until she was exhausted. She was vaguely aware of some of the other mission personnel gathering around and expressing their concern. She heard Methos explain that he was her cousin... that a family member had died... he would deal with it. He had gathered her small frame up into his arms and carried her into the tent she called home and then sat there holding her until her sobs had finally ceased.
"How... who...?" she finally said.
"We don't really know, yet." By 'we' she knew he meant the Watchers.
"It's your job to know!" Eleanor flung the accusation at him. "You were supposed to be watching him, making certain he was safe! It's your fault!"
"Bancroft was called to London for a conference. His replacement never showed. All we know for certain is that Darius is dead."
"No... no... no!" her voice trailed off. Then an idea occurred to her. "You know how he likes to play his little games... maybe he's in hiding... getting ready to pop up somewhere else. Maybe he has just finally left holy ground... maybe... maybe..." Eleanor's mind raced at the possibilities. "He'll come... you'll see. He's not dead? He can't be dead!"
Methos shook his head sadly.
Eleanor began to moan as she shook her head... "It's my fault. I told him he wasn't safe on holy ground... I told him to leave. I always told him to leave... It's all my fault! He must have left and been caught. Carrera? Could it have been Carrera? It's my fault! Mine!" She buried her face in her hands and sobbed once more her voice rising in a wail. "We never had a chance. We never..." Suddenly she wanted to die. What was the use of living now!
She rolled off the cot and pulled her short sword from beneath the mattress to lash out suddenly at Methos. "Fight me... fight me now!"
Before she could get close enough to him, his own sword was out. Methos deflected her blows... one by one until he could get inside her defenses. Then he disarmed her and wrapped his arms about her until her self-destructive rage had passed.
Finally she looked up at him and her eyes narrowed. "I hate you!... I hate you!" She pulled away. "Go away! Get out of my sight. I never want to see you again! I don't ever want to look up and see you there! I want you gone! You should be the one dead!" Within her Kae Dhun smiled, his rage simmering beneath hers. "If I see you again... I will kill you!"
Methos stared at her... perhaps only then beginning to recognize that there was more here than just a student bemoaning the death of her teacher. He had nodded curtly, "Then I think I had better leave." And he left. And she was alone with her grief.
And she had never forgiven him for telling her. No matter that he had wanted to break it to her gently so that she would not learn of Darius' death from anyone else. Methos had known how she would react... but she thought even he had been surprised at the released rage she had felt and at the depth of her grief.
She had played that last scene with Darius over and over in her mind for the last decade. She should have known! She should have made him leave! She should have stayed with him and protected him! Somehow, she could never get beyond that moment, and now she felt empty, old and all used up inside. She was weary of this immortal life and wanted it over. She couldn't change that day, no matter how hard she tried. In the end she always left and Darius always died.
Then four years ago she had found six year old Derrick under that highway bridge and she recalled what Methos had once told her of her own long-forgotten childhood... of how he had sensed something of Aja in her and had wondered about it. Now she wondered if somehow Derrick had something of Darius' great spirit within him. She had clung to the boy because of it... but in the end she had let him go. If there were something... it might still be there later... if there was a later.
She could wait... but as for Darius himself... he was dead and nothing and no one would ever replace him. She had to find a way to move beyond that moment. But Eleanor had not yet found a way.
She began the scene once more in her mind. It was a running commentary, as it had been every moment of every day for the past ten years... but no matter how she tried... it was always the same. If she had known... what would she have done? What would she not have done?
Once more, within her mind, she bent to fold the last of her clothes...
|The Book of Darius
(This page last updated 08/10/2003)