"What's that?" Lucia asked as she entered her godfather's office at his home on the Moria moon.
Duncan MacLeod glanced up briefly with a welcoming smile before returning his attention to the carved wooden box on his desk. "This is your mother's birthday present." He reached into the box, removing a small dagger with delicate tracery along the blade.
She drew closer. "It's red." Reaching out a finger she touched the strange metal. "Where did you get it?"
"Navarra Prime. It's a world that's recently made contact with the Federation, and with us. Joe and I visited a few months ago on one of our buying trips. They have some of the best weapon smiths I've come across in a very long time. The metal they use has a red tint to it." He handed it to her. "Do you think she'll like it?"
"She'll love it." Lucia handled the small blade expertly. "It's a little on the small side though."
"Small in your hand, but perfect for Triona." At seventeen, Lucia topped her mother by a good six inches. He took the dagger back from her, placing it in its box.
The girl dropped into the chair in front of the desk, swinging her legs over one of the arms, sliding down to slouch against the chair back. "I should probably tell you to sit up straight," Duncan noted with a smile. "But I guess you're too old for me to do that anymore." She grinned a little at that, but made no move to correct her posture. "So what brings my favourite goddaughter for a visit?"
"No reason, I just missed you. You've been traveling a lot, spending more time on Earth."
He came around the desk to sit on the corner. "It's good to be missed, Cia, but is that the only reason?" He had been his goddaughter’s confidant since she was a little girl. He knew the signs when something was bothering her.
Sighing, she ran her hand through her long curly red hair. "It's just...." He waited patiently for her to continue. "My application to Starfleet Academy was accepted," she finally said.
"That's wonderful, Lucia! Not that it's a surprise to any of us that you made it. I'm very proud of you." He squeezed her shoulder affectionately. "But you don't look very happy for someone who just made it into the Academy. What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" she practically threw herself out of her chair, beginning to pace furiously "What's wrong is that my mother isn't happy for me. Oh, she pretends, but she's not. And daddy, the parent that didn't want me to exist at all, is the one who's thrilled for me! Tell me that isn't messed up?"
Duncan was stunned at her angry proclamation. "You can't honestly believe that?" He knew Triona and Lucia had been going through a rough patch lately, but it had just seemed like normal mother/teenage daughter stuff. And what she seemed to believe in regards to Methos' feelings about her birth shocked him.
"Don't, Uncle Duncan, don't try and pretend. You always take mummy's side!"
"I'm not taking anyone's side, Cia. And despite Methos' opinion to the contrary, I don't always take Triona's side. I don't," he protested at her snort of disbelief. "Besides, it was your last statement that I wanted to discuss. You can't possibly believe Methos didn't want you to exist. He has always loved you."
"I'm not a little girl anymore! And I'm not stupid. Daddy didn't want mummy to have a mortal child that she would have to watch grow old and die. But she went ahead with it anyway, despite his objections, and I was the result; the lab experiment, the freak of nature!"
“You are not a freak or an experiment! I don’t ever want to hear you talk about yourself that way again!” he said sternly. Then more softly, “Lucia,” he took her gently but firmly by the shoulders, "it's not that simple. It was a very complicated time for your parents. They both did and said things that they came to regret. But you are not one of them, nor have you ever been. Do you understand?"
"They spent a year apart because of me!" she cried.
Duncan took her hand, drawing her over to the sofa. Sitting down next to her he said, "They may have been living in the same house before that, but they weren't together, and hadn’t been for a long time."
She took a deep breath. "Did my mother have an affair? Did she cheat on daddy with Jean-Luc? Is that the real reason he didn't want me?" Lucia looked up at him pleadingly, trusting him to tell her the truth.
This just got worse and worse, and Duncan silently promised himself that Methos and Triona were going to owe him forever for this one. "No, she didn't. Your mother did not have an affair." Sighing, he continued, "It isn't always about sex, Cia. You can meet someone that you have a deep connection with, who you can love and trust with your life, and sex never enters into it. It's like that for Triona and Jean-Luc; their lives have been intertwined since the night of First Contact. And then they shared an experience, along with LaCroix, that none of them were able to easily deal with. What happened to them that day on the Enterprise complicated your parents' marriage even more; it widened the cracks that were already there, splitting them apart entirely."
"But they got back together."
"Yeah, they did. A few weeks before you were born. And when they brought you back home, Methos fussed over you constantly. None of us could even hold you without constant nagging about our baby handling technique."
"Really." He tapped her nose with a finger. "He loves you, sweetheart. And so does your mother!" He shushed her protest. "She loves you and she's proud of you. But she's your mother, and she worries. You didn't exactly pick a safe career, you know. Just give her a chance to get used to the idea. You're going away, Cia. Off to lead your life on your own, just like you're supposed to. But that doesn't make it any easier for Triona right now."
"Why didn't she tell me that? I thought she was angry with me."
Duncan put an arm around her shoulders. "Why do you think?"
Chewing on her lower lip, Lucia was silent. Then she finally said, "Because she was trying to protect me from her fear.”
He drew her closer. “She’s scared, Lucia.”
Nodding, she whispered, “She's feeling exactly how daddy was afraid she would before I was born. She not only has to let me leave home, she has to let me lead my life, my mortal life, a life that must seem to her like it's racing past."
"Now do you understand?" he asked softly, wiping a tear from her cheek.
"I think I do. It all makes more sense now. So many things I never really understood." She laid her head on his shoulder. "Is this what it's like being an adult?"
Laughing, he stroked her hair. "I'm afraid so."
"I'm glad you're here, Uncle Duncan."
"I'll always be here for you, Cia."
Kissing him on the cheek, she stood up, walking over to the window to look out at the planetrise. "I can't tell her I figured it out, can I"?
"Not right away, no. Give her some time."
"It's my turn to take care of her." She turned back to him. "That's part of being an adult too."
"You're very wise for your age, you know."
He was rewarded with a wide smile. "That's because I grew up around so many really old people!"
Standing up, he walked over to her. "Hey! I'm practically a spring chicken compared to most of them, so watch who you're calling old!"
"Okay, you're not that old," she told him, hugging him.
"Better, much better."
"So, Uncle Duncan," she looked up at him through her long eyelashes, "you're going to Earth next week, right?"
"I am." He looked down at her suspiciously. She had that tone that Amanda always used when she was up to something.
"Can I come?"
"If you’d like."
"I was thinking you could take me shopping in Paris. I mean, you have such wonderful taste, and it would be so much fun!"
"Fun? And just how are you planning on paying for this shopping spree of yours?" Crossing his arms, he looked at her expectantly.
She scuffed one toe against the wood floor, tilting her head to look at him sidelong. "I did just get into Starfleet Academy, and I know you want to get me a present, so I just figured it would be your treat."
"Certain people in your life have been a very bad influence, young lady," he scolded with a twinkle in his eye. "On the bright side, you aren't always drinking my beer."
"Is that a 'yes'?"
"Yes! Like there was any doubt," he muttered as she squealed, throwing her arms around his neck.
"You are the best, Uncle Duncan!"
"Yeah, the best pushover," he grumbled.
"The best godfather," she corrected. Then she was suddenly serious once more. "You'll be there for mummy when I'm gone, won't you?"
"Always, for both of you whenever you need me, I swear."
Nodding, she took his hands in hers. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Now, why don't you go back home and take your parents out to dinner? Surprise them with your newfound maturity." She stuck her tongue out at him and he grinned. It was nice to know that some things never changed.