21 In Which the One Talks to Itself
Delvin lit a fire in the fireplace and reclined in front of it with a sigh, staring into the slowly growing frames. He'd been sure to equip the room with a large, thick rug just for such occasions. So many things change, but fire is universal and eternal. He was chagrined but not very surprised when his sister entered the room and pushed him into a more upright position so she could lean on him.
Once she was settled, he asked, "Did I wake you?"
Diane snorted. "I woke as I began to dream of your student of old so I suppose you did. But Alexander's Presence had already woken me once, so it was not a deep sleep anyway. What's wrong?"
"I'm trying not to go torture his mortal family. I'm reminding myself that that's illegal and that it will do no good," he said softly, not even pretending it was a joke. She'd know it wasn't anyway. "He is so convinced that if he shows the slightest imperfection, I will abandon him, cast him aside like so much rubbish. And I didn't realize it. I thought he was dealing well. I thought that he had accepted his life and what he must do, but it was only that he had bottled it all up inside, afraid that I would leave him if I believed otherwise. It seemed foreign to him that I would help him through this fear rather than try to beat it out of him or leave him to deal with it on his own." Delvin paused to just breath for a moment, tears trying to gather in his eyes. "I'm failing my Student and I didn't realize it until he cried himself to sleep in my arms."
Diane was silent for a while, but he could feel the thoughts churning in her head. "This is a different time," she finally declared. "Of course we have some difficulty understanding our new students. We want to treat them the same as we treating our former students, but with this completely different life, it would be very difficult to do so without breaking their spirits. And both of our young students are adepts at hiding their feelings from the world. Greg had similar problems, especially after he took Tarris's head, but the fact that Greg and I share a bed helps him to open his thoughts to me. You and Alexander have not taken that step. Why?"
"When we arrived, he nearly panicked because he thought that I would demand sex from him when he found out about you and Greg. He hasn't spoken of it, but I'm certain his foster father abused him in many ways, so I was leery of encouraging such a relationship between us. And it would not be fair to him or to me at this time really. I...am thoroughly confused about Spike. And Alexander has just informed me that he would like for his lover to move into the mansion with us."
"Lover? When did this happen?"
"Tonight, apparently,' Delvin replied with a chuckle. "I told you about Alexander fixating on the young were-wolf when he was suffering the after-affects of the Quickening. There is something more between them, and they would like to explore the possibilities."
Diane pulled away him, and he glanced at her. She was staring at the fire, looking fey and unworldly in her white nightgown. Finally, she ran her fingers through her short hair and looked back at him.
"This will make his training much more difficult. A lover is wonderful, but also a distraction."
"Would you deny Greg if he truly believed he had a chance to love?"
She looked troubled. "I don't know. You know me, I'm not the idealist that you are."
"No, but you aren't heartless."
"Three-hundred years ago, you would not have considered it either."
"Three-hundred years ago, I would not have stayed here. And if my Student didn't like that, I would have killed him and taken him to an island in the middle of the ocean until he had learned all I felt he needed," he pointed out. "He would have been isolated from everything and everyone but you and me. There would have been no opportunity for love."
"Ah, the good old days," she quipped, looking a bit wistful. His twin had known love so few times for all their long years. She simply could not trust enough to give her heart. If anything she was more paranoid than Methos, which was saying a lot.
He shared in wistfulness, however. The old days were harsh, but there was a simplicity to them that they missed so much at times. Then he sobered.
"Could you imagine either of them earning a day and a night?"
This time the look they shared was haunted. Only once had they earned such a punishment from their Teacher. Methos was not a cruel man, not, at least, to his students. But, in a fit of frustration and angry and desperation with their new way of life, the twins had only once tried to kill him and take his head. They regretted it as soon as they realized what they had done, but regret had not saved them from a punishment worse than any other.
When they had woken from a swift death, they had been stripped to their loincloths and tied down, spread-eagle in the sand outside. The place were they train with their Teacher had been far from anything, so no one happened by as he left them tied for a day and a night. He gave them water from his hands but no food and he didn't speak to them, not one word until their punishment was complete. After they had passed out from the heat and hunger, their Immortal healing combating the burns from the sun, they had woken in the tent to a simple meal and plenty of water, cleaned of the sand and filth that they had acquired. Methos had softly informed them that the punishment was complete, their wrong-doing was forgiven and training would begin again the next day. And if ever they did such a thing again, it would be two days and nights.
Diane broke the memory. "I can't imagine them earning it. But I could enforce it. I'd hate it, but I could enforce it."
Delvin sent a nod of unhappy agreement. It such a case, the choices were clear: take your Student's head, abandon your Student, or teach them that while you won't do either of those things, you will not allow such attacks. They'd both used the punishment on their Students in the past, and it hurt to see that fear and pain in the eyes of the ones they'd sworn to protect and teach. But the relationship always survived, even growing stronger.
"But enough of such unhappy thoughts," he said. "You should go back to bed."
"What about you?"
He didn't look at her. She was giving him that look that said she thought he was being stupid, and he didn't have to see her to know it.
"I'm going to stay up and think."
Again, he didn't look. But he heard her sigh, and felt there kiss the top of his head.
"Noapte bună, Frate."
"Noapte bună, Soră."
And he was alone again, staring at the flames.
AN: Hi, again. Obviously I wanted some character building for these two. I also just wanted to take a moment to say that I added a "slight Buffy-bashing* warning to my summery. More Romania translations below, even if they're kinda obvious.
Noapte bună, frate.--Good night, Brother
Noapte bună, soră.--Good night, Sister