Blood & Steel: Chapter 3 –Remember When It Rained

A/N: If you can't tell by now, I name almost all of my chapters after songs that inspire me. Sometimes, all you have to do is look at the lyrics of a song to understand why it motivated me. Kinda like the one I used for this one. I wasn't really happy with the fact that it's taken me so long to get around to having Gabriel and Saoirse meet, so I've decided to speed things up a bit.

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: See the first two chapters for the disclaimer.

"Wash away the thoughts inside

That keep my mind away from you

No more love and no more pride

And thoughts are all I have to do

Remember when it rained

I felt the ground and looked up high and called your name

Remember when it rained

In the darkness I remain"

- "Remember When It Rained" by Josh Groban

Translation of Gaelic: a ghrá mo chroí – Love of my heart

Translation of German: Mein Liebe – my love

Gabriel glanced at Saoirse Ramirez out of the corner of his eyes, trying to figure out the puzzle that she presented. How many people did he know who could even recognize twelfth century Hindi, much less translate it? Not many, and most of his friends would even admit it, the rare case being Sara. He'd gotten a glimpse of Saoirse's notes when she'd dropped the book, and they were written in what looked like Gaelic, although a primitive form of it. No one he knew, knew how to write in primitive Gaelic!

Not to mention that she didn't look old enough to be a translator at a college; that, when her cell phone had gone off, she'd answered it in French, quickly switching to Spanish when she realized who was on the other end, or that she sometimes seemed to drift off, listening to something no one else could hear.

She didn't look like a dusty old scholar, with her reddish-brown hair pulled back into two pigtails, her brown eyes lively with intelligence and maybe something else. She couldn't have been more than 22, topping out at five foot four, seeming swallowed in a thick black sweater, scarf, jeans, and a hefty pair of boots. But something about her…

"Gabriel?" Sara was speaking to him, and he jerked his attention back from where it had wandered. Saoirse seemed just as surprised as he did that he'd gotten caught staring at her; her cheeks turned a bright red. Her eyes flicked up, noting something on the dry-erase board across the office. "What do you think?"

"Sorry, Chief. I wasn't listening. What?" he replied.

"I was asking you about the tattoo on the girl's wrist. That's what you're here to tell me about, right?" she asked.

"Uh, yeah. I would've called you, but the phones here are on the fritz." He reached into his back pocket, and pulled out a printout. "It's relatively obscure. I haven't been able to determine if the image in the middle is a bird or a 'W'. It seems to be completely new, not a gang tattoo or a significant marking on any object I've seen." He looked up from the printout. His eyes focused on Saoirse, and flicked down to where the sleeve of her shirt covered her wrist. 'I should tell Sara that she has the same tattoo…' he thought. Something inside him warned against it.

Saoirse wasn't listening. She didn't even notice his attention on her wrist. She was watching Gabriel's hands, with their long fingers, play across the crumpled printout, and remembering someone else's hands. How'd they'd glided over her bare shoulder, above the neckline of the gown she'd worn for the ball that night, and had elicited a gasp as electricity flew from him to her.

She had to take a deep breath to bring her back to the present, and to the office where the Wielder resided.

"Okay, so the tat is a dead end." Sara turned watchful eyes to Saoirse. "Miss Ramirez, -,"

"Saoirse, please. I feel ancient when people call me Miss Ramirez." She smiled at the detective, and mentally added, 'Even though I am.'

"Saoirse. What do you know about Miss Florenti's lifestyle? Besides work, was there anyone she spoke of? Did she lead an active life outside work?"

She searched her mind, trying to come up with the right words. She spoke slowly, piecing her thoughts together. "This is just what I remember from when I would visit her and when she would call to talk to me. Keep in mind, I've lived in Paris for the last three years. Tina loved being single and active. She was always on the VIP list of any club in town, and they all treated her as a respected guest. From what she told me, none of them knew how she came by her money, just that she always seemed to have quite a bit of it." She thought again, especially about a comment Tina had made the last time she'd contacted her. She thought she'd found Mr. Right, and Saoirse had been happy for her. "She mentioned a boyfriend the last time she called me. A new one, which didn't come as a surprise. She had a new one every week or so, it seemed."

"When was the last time she called you?"

Saoirse glanced at her watch, then calculated in her head. "About…three days ago. She'd mentioned that her boyfriend was treating her to a special night. Dinner, dancing, and actual conversation, something Tina didn't always get in her line of work. I take it that you already know that Tina was an escort by trade."

Jake nodded in confirmation, opening a folder. "The service that she got her clients through told us that she had informed them that she had an unscheduled 'date' that night. The name she gave them was a regular of hers, they told us."

"Oh? Can you tell me that name? I might know it. Hell, it might be her boyfriend, and she didn't want her service to find out that she was giving it out for free," she asked. Jake started looking through the file, searching for the name.

"There was a rule against her dating outside the service?" Sara asked.

"Most definitely. Tina made her living with her body, and she made very good money at it. A portion of that went to her service. If she went out on a regular date, that would be money the service was losing." Saoirse replied.

"Here it is. The name is Arno-Arnas," Jake was stumbling over the name.

"Arnostos Catoro?" Saoirse finished.

"You know him?" Sara asked. The fact that she'd managed to say the name without any problem, coupled with her vision, was enough to justify her to Sara.

Saoirse looked at Gabriel, then back to the detectives. "To say it has been a long time since I've heard that name would be an extreme understatement."

'"My name is Baron Gloemoor, Arnostos Catoro. And you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen." She could still see him bending over her hand, his eyes meeting hers with a sly smile. He had been dashingly attired, appropriate for the court of Queen Victoria, and perfectly polite…until he'd decided to make his own introductions, foregoing the requisite third party introductions. That alone had made the room grow considerably quieter.

"You flatter me, my lord," Saoirse sarcastically replied, gently pulling her hand out of his grasp. She could almost feel the anger radiating off of Darius Krawler, her escort for the night. "A baron? How impressive." She kept the sarcastic tone, casting a glance at Darius that told him to calm down.

"And you are, my lady?" His dark eyes danced with mischief, and Saoirse almost started to laugh. He knew exactly what he was doing to Darius, and he enjoyed it.

'Fair enough. He's earned at least my name,' she thought, smirking behind her fan. "I am Lady Saoirse Falcor." He quirked an eyebrow, and she added, "Widowed."

"Gloemoor. I've never heard of that barony." Darius's voice was like an artic wind. Saoirse almost shuddered from the chill.

"It is in Bavaria, on the eastern border." Arnostos' tone was still jovial, as if he didn't notice Darius's had taken on an edge. Or, if he did, he simply did not care.

Saoirse, however, had heard of it, and its rulers were well known for their ruthlessness. At least, they had been when she'd made the mistake of passing through about fifty years ago. But this one…something in his eyes reminded her of Con. And she couldn't resist aiming one of her brightest smiles right at him, just to make Darius a tad bit jealous.

"Do you remember him at all? A physical description?" Jake asked, bringing her out of her quick remembrance.

"What I remember is only from what images I have seen, and those have been of a tall, dark man. From my studies, he was very engaging, and quite brilliant." 'No one will ever know how dear he was.' "But not, from what I know of him, one who would just decide to pick up a gun and start hurting people," she said. "He was very gentle."

'He was, wasn't he? You hurt him enough when you went to Darius. After all you had together, you went back to Darius, just like he always thought you would,' her mind filled in. She pushed the voice aside.

"Was?" Sara asked, leaning forward.

"That you are asking me about him now makes me wonder what events have occurred that you would inquire as to his recent behavior." Saoirse said, blatantly avoiding the question.

"Mr. Catoro is suspected of a crime. I'm not at liberty to tell you what exactly he is being suspected of, but we would like to know his whereabouts and background," she replied.

"His whereabouts aren't a mystery, nor is his background, Detective." Her cell phone beeped, and Saoirse pulled it out of her satchel to glance at the caller ID. She cursed in Gaelic, then said, "If you'll please excuse me, Detectives, an urgent matter has just come up that requires my attention."

"Why is he so easy to find? Is he innocent?" Jake couldn't help asking.

Saoirse looked at him with eyes that suddenly didn't seem quite so all seeing, one hand on the doorknob of the office and the other on her cell phone, holing it close to her body. "Detective McCarthy, Arnostos Catoro is buried in a graveyard just outside of London, England. He has been there for quite some time." She pushed the door open, and stepped through, shutting it gently behind her.

Sara looked at Jake, then at the closed door. "Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought that was a teaser," she said, raising her eyebrows.

"You think she was baiting us?" Jake asked. "Why?"

"Shits and giggles, for all I know." She was already firing up her Internet. "We can find out about Arnostos Catoro, though. Any plots should be listed."

"That depends on how old the plot is, and whether local records will have anyone under that name listed." Gabriel said. His eyes trailed after Saoirse, almost as if he wanted to follow her.

"Considering the name, I think they'll have it listed. Arnostos Catoro can't exactly be the most common name in England, now can it?" Jake replied.

Gabriel waited until Sara and Jake were both deep in conversation about the possible lead (or dead, no pun intended, end, depending on how you looked at it) before he made some random noises about needing to get some work done and left the office. Already very familiar with the police department, he wound his way out and down, his eyes searching the crowd for a pair of reddish-brown pigtails and a black sweater. He couldn't find her. It was like she'd just – vanished.

Saoirse climbed out of a cab, looking up at the store windows. 'Nash Antiques' was written quietly across the windows in frost, giving no mention to the priceless antiques that were sealed inside. Not to mention one antique who currently resided inside. She could feel him, the strange buzz that accompanied all Immortals when they approached another of their kind, ringing at a different resonance; deeper, like an old bell. She knew he could feel her as well.

She pushed open the door, faintly hearing a bell chime her presence. She made sure the door was shut behind before she said anything.

"Connor?" she called. The numerous valuables absorbed the sound, dulling the echoing effect that old large buildings have. "Connor McLeod?" Saoirse wound her way through the maze of antiques, careful to not upset any of them. Her boots made no sound on the lush, deep carpet. She made a mental note to walk around barefoot later, since she rarely got the chance to walk on antique Persian rugs barefoot.

When her English received no reply, she switched to a tongue that the elder McLeod would have a hard time ignoring. "'Dammit, Connor, show yourself!'" she yelled in the Scots tongue that he'd grown up hearing.

"'You'd think, for one as old as yourself, that you would have more patience with an old man,'" a male voice, full of laughter, said from above her.

"You're not a day older than six hundred, Connor McLeod." But there was no harshness in Saoirse's voice. It rang with familiarity, and friendship. She looked up, smiling back at a man who had died, the first time, in his early-to-mid-twenties. He was leaning over the railing, smiling down on her. His brown eyes were still bright,

"Just as you're not a day older than forty-five hundred. C'mon up, Saoirse. We've much to discuss, if you're here for what I think you are," he replied.

She leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees, sitting on Connor's couch, her head in her hands and a weary look on her face. "I honestly thought he'd die off, Connor. I kept hoping I would hear that he'd been killed, that someone had finally taken his head, or that he would've dropped off the face of the planet, content to sink into legend, as so many we older ones did." She pushed her hands through her hair, and glanced at the man who was so much younger than she, but a tried and true ally nonetheless.

"What does your heart tell you?" His voice was quiet, without a trace of judgment.

"That he's alive and well. That he's waiting for me, searching for me. Wanting to settle a score that I had no clue about ever incurring." She sighed, and reached the cup of hot chocolate that he'd set on the coffee table. Then, watching him carefully, she added, "I ran into Arnostos at the police station."

"What?!" Connor nearly splashed himself with his coffee, he jumped so suddenly. "Are you sure?" he demanded, looking at her closely.

"Pretty sure. I saw his soul in someone. I know it was Arnostos, Connor." Saoirse said. "The carrier's name is Gabriel Bowman."

"The name sounds familiar. Hold on," he said, rising. He walked over to a neat-as-a-pin desk, and flipped through some cards. "Bowman, Bowman…ah, here it is. I met him at an auction once. He's a pretty smart kid, as young as he is. Got his card so I'd know my competition." He pulled it out, walking over and setting it down on the table, sitting as he did so.

"What was he bidding against you for?" Saoirse asked, smiling knowingly at Connor's slightly bemused expression.

"How did you know I was bidding on something? For all you know, I could've just been there as a watcher," he replied.

"You like the hunt too much, Connor. You love to beat some new-money collector out of what he'll throw away when the fad for it has passed," she replied. She sipped her cocoa, then said, smiling, "Besides, you forget that I've been at the same auctions as you. I've seen your style. So, what did he bid against you for?"

"An old sword that was rumored to have been crafted by Ramirez." Connor spoke quietly, as he always did of the man who taught him so much about being Immortal.

'Taught you and me both quite a bit about living this way, old friend' she thought.

"Was it and did you win it?" she asked.

"No, to both. It was a bad replica, which Bowman picked up on before I did. The man who wound up winning it wouldn't have known a katana from a butter knife." Connor replied.

Saoirse smiled. "Then he deserved to win it."

"So, what are you doing to do about Krawler? You can't just leave him to the wind."

Her smile faded, and she leaned back against the couch, sighing. "As much I would like to do just that, I know I can't. But I do know one thing. If he and Gabriel come in contact, all hell will break loose. Darius will remember Arnostos, and Gabriel…he's so close in appearance to Arnostos. The same mannerisms, same way he tilts his head." She set her cup of hot chocolate down on the coffee table. "Gabriel won't stand a chance."

Connor tilted his head, looking at her. "You've got circles under your eyes. When was the last time you slept?" he asked softly.

"I might have slept on the way over, I don't remember." Saoirse glanced at him, her eyes keen. "Since when did you care about whether or not I got enough sleep?"

"Since now. I keep thinking that if I'd had any children, I'd have wanted them to be just like you." Conner replied. He stood. "You're staying at the Watcher house, then?"

"Seemed like the best way to make sure that the Watchers know that I'm still working for them." Saoirse stood as well.

"You know you're welcome to stay here, if you wish. I have a spare bedroom that never gets used, except when Duncan decides to drop in." He gestured down the hall, into the living area that was secluded from the rest of the apartment and store.

"I just might take you up on that, considering. We'll see." She shouldered her bag, and moved around the coffee table to hug Connor hard. "Thanks, McLeod."

"What did I do?" he asked, returning her hug.

"Well, for one thing, you told me what I needed to do. It's one thing to say it to myself, but it's another to hear it from a friend."

The day passed quickly, with Saoirse quickly settling into her rooms at the Watcher house in Manhattan. She unpacked the two suitcases she routinely carried with her, and took out her most prized possession: a sword crafted by Ramirez himself, folded over two hundred times, inlaid with Celtic knot work and her first name, the name that she had despised while living under her mother's rule. He had never told her why he'd carved the name onto the blade, but she had a feeling it had to do with something he'd told her when he'd first mentored her in the more sophisticated ways of immortality.

'Never forget who you were when you first became Immortal, Niamh,' he said, sharpening his blade as she tried to focus on learning how to read, her finger tracing along the line she was concentrating on. 'Always remember what made you the person that you are today, and what kind of fire you were forged in' She looked up at him, her face confused.

'The fire that I was forged in?' she asked.

'The fire that you were forged in brought about the person that you are. You are young yet, Niamh.' He'd looked up from sharpening his blade, a smile on his face. 'You will understand as you grow older. There are forces coming that will attempt to destroy you. You must be made stronger by those forces.'

She raised an eyebrow, asking, 'Oh, I must, must I?'

He laughed, saying, 'You'll understand one day, Niamh. I promise.' His eyes twinkled, lit with a secret that she would only learn in time.

Saoirse smiled at the memory, and sheathed the blade. It had been a trial to get past customs, especially since 9/11, and she'd had to pull out every credential she had on her, including calling in a couple of professors from the Watchers to vouch for her. Those two Watchers knew that she always carried a blade, so they were perfectly happy to vouch for her, but she didn't need them to know (or pass on) that she carried a sword large enough to cut off someone's head.

She heard the patter of rain on the window of her room, and she turned to see a light sprinkle across the panes. From the darkness of the clouds, it was going to rain for the rest of the day and into the night. That was perfect for her. Saoirse slept best to rain. For right now, she could make do with sitting next to the window and listening to one of her favorite CDs; Closer by Josh Groban. She slipped the CD into her portable player, and curled up next to the window, letting his voice, speaking fluent Italian, flow over her.

Feeling the music wash over her, she drifted off, her head dropping forward, and into the dream world, where old friends still lived.

The blissful silence of the townhouse only magnified the echo of the rain on the roof, creating a world where only Saoirse and Arnostos existed. It went against the rules of society for them to be alone in the same house together, even if Saoirse was a widow, but neither of them had ever really cared for the dictates of the society that scorned them.

Saoirse stood in front of a giant window, pulling the drapes back slightly, revealing the dark, turbulent sky. Lighting split the sky, and she smiled as she felt the rush of energy that always accompanied a thunderstorm. She placed the palm of her hand against the window, absorbing the coolness of the pane.

Gabriel puttered around his warehouse apartment, doing some mild cleaning (anything too drastic, and he couldn't find anything) and listening to his usual mix of KISS, AC/DC, and old style rock. The patter of rain on the windows and on the roof struck a reassuring rhythm, one that called him to take a nap, something he didn't normally do.

He glanced at his watch, which read seven oh three pm. 'It's too early for me to go to sleep,' he thought, even as he yawned hugely. The time he'd spent researching for Sara, and all the time that he was on his computer, was starting to take its toll. He looked longingly at his bed, and made a quick decision. 'If I power nap now, then I can stay up later, and get caught up on some research.' Sighing blissfully, he threw himself onto his bed. Sleep wasn't far behind.

Saoirse felt his presence behind her, as soon as he entered the parlor. She turned away from the magnificent display outside, her wide skirts rustling, and smiled at him. "You're missing the storm."

Arnostos smiled back at her, his eyes flickering over to the chess game he'd had to temporarily leave, and noting her pieces' position. "You haven't been cheating again, have you, Saoirse?" he joked lightly, motioning at the dire position she'd placed his king in. His accent wasn't as thick now as it had been when she had first met him, but it was still there, in a turn of phrase, in an argument. It still lent him a fair amount of mystery that drew women like him to flies. She brushed the notion off, along with the twinge of jealousy that came with it. This was Arnostos, who had become a friend to her, in a city where she did not have very many.

"No need to cheat against you. You always let me win." She turned back at the display outside, entranced. "Look at it." Her voice was soft, reverent of the lightening, for something that had always held a certain amount of appeal for her. It reminded her of an ancient dance, meant to draw down power from the gods, and harness it for the good of the people. This, of course, was back before she'd traveled to Jerusalem with Ramirez. She hadn't converted, but she had seen the wonders a single man with a message of good could do.

"I let you win, do I?" His voice got closer, and she heard the floorboards creak as he moved across the room, presumably to his lost chess game. "Does Darius ever let you win when you play?"

Her smile faded, and she looked into her reflections' eyes, noticing how sad they suddenly became.. "What makes you think Darius plays chess with me?" she replied. In her mind's eyes, she replayed her last conversation with Darius Krawler, a man who had wished to become her betrothed – even if she did not love him. Even if it was against her own wishes.

They had hurled accusations at each other at her home, he about Arnostos, and how they spent far too much time together to be just friends. He had tried to play on the assumption that she was like every other girl in the ballrooms of London, and she had come out the victor. She knew he was unfaithful to her, and she'd thrown the information at him, following it with a statement that she could never be faithful to a man who didn't see fit to remain faithful to her.

"Darius overplayed his hand this last time, didn't he?" Arnostos asked. She jumped slightly, realizing that he was very close behind her. "What did you argue about?"

"Oh, the usual things. Marriage, fidelity, friendships." Saoirse turned slightly away from the window, where rain had started to fall. "Darius seems to hold this ridiculous notion that if we were married, he could still carry on any particular liaison that tickled his fancy, while I would be required to play the dutiful – and blind – wife. When I told him that I would require complete fidelity, he scoffed and said it would make him the laughing stock of the ton."

Wash away the thoughts inside

That keeps my mind away from you

No more love and no more pride

And thoughts are all I have to do

"And what did he say?" he asked. Saoirse bit her lip, holding back, and he smiled. A gentle smile, meant to coerce her into revealing that part of her that was most valuable. "Come now, Saoirse, you know better than to hold out on me. I know you too well at this point to think that you would back down from an argument, especially with someone as arrogant as Darius Krawler. What did he say to that?"

"He brought up our friendship. How unfashionable and improper it was, for an unmarried man and woman to be friends, despite the fact that I am a widow. I asked him how mad it might be for a man and a woman to be friends, and he replied that men and women could not be friends. He said that we are two completely different animals, and that there is simply no way to get around that." She smiled a slightly evil smile. "Then I asked him how he could expect us to make a marriage work with no common ground." She looked back out the window, the sound of the rain soothing away her day.

Remember when it rained

I felt the ground and looked up high and called your name

Remember when it rained

In the darkness I remain

"Do you love him?" This question, completely out of the blue, shocked Saoirse to her core. She spun around, her skirts flying around her, to find Arnostos very close behind her. She backed up a couple of steps, feeling her skirts push against the backs of her legs when she ran into the window ledge.

"Do I love him? Darius Krawler?" She had to repeat the question, if only to make sure that they were the ones she had heard. "What makes you ask, Arnostos?" She tried to act the cool, titled widow that society believed her to be, that Darius believed her to be. Arnostos always saw right past it.

"You've never spoken of loving anyone, not even your first husband. Do you love Darius Krawler enough to make him your second?" His dark eyes were shuttered against her gaze, but, with a flicker of lightening, she was able to see the tension that moved across his face.

"I do not love Darius Krawler, Arnostos. I never have. He was, for a time, a good companion. He entertained me." She turned back to the show Mother Nature was putting on outside.

"And now?"

"I think he has tired of me, but my wealth is simply too substantial to pass up. He no longer entertains me, and I find no humor in the man that is now coming to my attention." The floor creaked, and she could almost feel him moving closer.

Tears of hope run down my skin

Tears for you that will not dry

They magnify the one inside

And let the outside slowly die

"Saoirse – Mien liebe…" he halted, and Saoirse went stiff at his words. No one had called her their love since the Renaissance, at least, when it was fashionable to do so. She'd scorned those men then. She found she could not scorn this one now.

"Arnostos -," She ground to a halt when she felt his arms wrap around her waist, and pull her close to his body. "What are you doing?" Saoirse asked. She knew perfectly well what he was doing. Darius had tried it already. His touch had merely repulsed her. Arnostos', on the other hand…

"I knew you, a long time ago, didn't I?" he asked, his voice a whisper against one of her ears. "I saw you across that ballroom, and my soul leapt. It knew who you were." He hugged her tightly, and Saoirse felt her heart clench. She clasped her hands over his, fighting for the control she would need. "How do I know what makes you laugh, what makes you cry? How do I know that you would fly in the face of all the rules the ton considers necessary, all to live your life as you chose?"

"A ghrá mo chroí…" she whispered. Saoirse closed her eyes, willing the tears back. Duncan had warned her of this, that eventually Arnostos would realize exactly how he knew her so well. That he would question, and at that time she would have to either tell him, or lose him. "If I told you that I knew you before you were you, before you were this man, would you run?"

Before she realized what was happening, Saoirse was spun around, and her brown eyes met Arnostos' black ones. "Am I running, Saoirse?"

With that, he kissed her. She could only respond, and damn the consequences of what would lead from that kiss.

Remember when it rained

I felt the ground and looked up high and called your name

Remember when it rained

In the water I remain

Running down…

Saoirse sank deeper into sleep, hugging her pillow tightly.

On the other side of town, Gabriel tossed a little, then settled. A name escaped on a sigh.


Katherine Loving