Author's Note: here is the next chapter to Once and Again. Sorry its been taking me so long to add, but I had two jobs and just recently quit one of them. So now I have a bit more time to myself. It picks up where it left off. I will be listing a translation of some of the scottish-gaelic words I'll be using, so if you need reference, just scroll back up here to the top. Enjoy the second chapter and E-Mail those comments my way!

*** these stars indicate someone is dreaming or remembering

cagaran-darling
annsachd-beloved
alainn-beautiful one
oiche-night
m'eudail-my treasure, my darling
cuin bhur seach bhuam, cridhe a'ris doruinn-when you are away, my heart is in pain


Once and Again
Chapter 2

At the sound of thunder rumbling, seeming to shake the earth, she straightened, frowning."Scotland has such strange weather. There's thunder and I even saw lightening, but not a cloud in the sky."

Elios shrugged."You'll figure out soon enough that Scotland's weather is different then California."but only he knew why the weather was changing.

"I guess. Its still a little wierd to me."she grew nervous when she stood there in the kitchen, with him watching her and the sky erupting outside."Ah...so....?"

"So how about you offer me a cup of coffee?"he suggested, tucking his hands in his pockets.

She scowled at him."Why should I? This is your house. I'm sure you know your way around."

"I do, but its not my home right now, its yours. I'm a guest."

Trapped and hating it, she turned to the coffee brewer, took it and poured him a cup."I really should be getting back to work soon. I don't have time for small talk."she turned and handed him the cup.

"Go ahead and get back to work, I'll watch you. It wouldn't be such a hardship to watch you."

He seemed to have an answer for everything."Arguing with you is like arguing with a wall."

"And looking at you is like looking at a dream I've always had come true."he walked to the door and opened it, motioning with his cup for her to go out."Come on, I really would like to watch you."

As he walked back out, she could only stare at him with suspicion and some fear. She felt something from him and she wasn't sure she wanted to analyze what it was. And the fact that he was so attracted to her and was obviously planning on some way to take action on that was making her more nervous then she cared to admit.

Shaking it off, she took up her sketch pad and charcoal once again, following him and trudging past him to the spot she had designated for her work. She sat on the small hill and began to sketch again.

When he sat next to her, she ignored him."Can I ask you something?"he watched, fascinated with the quick and easy way she was bringing the small cottage to life.

She huffed out a breath."You know, I don't like interruptions."the truth was, she could hardly tolerate them.

"All right, I'm just curious to know about you. Did your parents have something in mind when they gave you the middle name 'Taischa?'"

She stiffened a bit, but rolled the tension from her shoulders, stopped sketching to stretch her arms."I never knew my parents."

His eyes narrowed."You didn't?"

"No. I was orphaned as a baby. Basically they left me on the orphanage doorstep, with only a paper saying what my name was."

"Have you ever tried looking for them? Maybe if you researched the name Hallowell or-"

"My parents gave me the name Rene Taischa, the orphanage gave me Hallowell."

"Oh. I see."he wondered about that bit of information, but he needed more to know."And how was your life in the orphanage? Were you adopted by a good family?"

She snorted as she sketched."Please. I was sent to foster home after foster home. No one wanted to keep me because I had second si-"she cut off, cleared her throat abruptly."They just didn't want to keep me."

"You had a sad childhood then."he whispered.

She shrugged, tried to keep her concentration on her work and not let her mind wander back to those lonely years."I had a childhood that helped me realize you can't depend on people. I see people for who they are, not who they pretend to be."

He was quiet a moment."Thats a sad thing to say."

She knew it was, but no one had ever given her reason to doubt what she believed."Its the way the world is."

He knew for certain then that her childhood, the loneliness he heard in her voice and saw in her eyes, was his fault. She'd always had her pride and him....he'd had his blinding anger."I'm sorry Rene. I shouldn't have brought it up."

"Your paying me, so I might as well cooperate if you want something."she didn't see the way his eyes flashed when she said this.

"If I want something from you, I want you to give or say it willingly. I don't want you telling me things or acting a certain way because I'm 'paying you.'"his tone had turned hard.

She glanced at him, raised a delicate brow."Touchy, aren't you?"

"I have a quick temper. Be sure to remember that."he stood, needing to pace, hating the guilt eating at him at the information she had just given him."The way you grew up made you who you are."

She didn't see why her childhood mattered so much, but he was the boss, so to speak."I suspect everyone's childhood makes them into who they'll become when there older."

He knew the truth in those words. He had never cared about affecting other people's lives, but hers.....he had hoped he wouldn't have an affect on hers."Yours was lonely."he whispered.

Her hand faultered in her sketching, froze enough to let him see he had hit a mark."It wasn't lonely. I didn't need anyone and I still don't. I'm an independent person and I've always been that way."

He stopped pacing to stare down at her, stare at the hand that was gripping the charcoal hard enough to break it."I can see that. And its an admirable quality."

His voice, the smooth, calm of it, made her relax. Just as the anger and bitter memories faded, she was wondering how his voice had been able to do that."How did you do that?"

"Do what?"he sat down next to her once again, reached out absently to take her hand.

The moment he touched her she jolted, a current of unlimited power spreading through her just as an unknown fear overtook her. As the emotions filled her heart and mind, her eyes saw him holding a woman wearing a simple dress, holding her and kissing her as if his life depended on it. She could see that in the background was this land, the green rolling hills and the river that seemed to sparkle under the shining sun. She watched them as if she stood there behind them, watched his hand come up and grip her hair, auburn, fiery hair that looked much too familiar.

Tearing her hand from his, she stood and stumbled away from him, gripping her sketch pad in her arms tightly."Who are you?"she whispered, the images flashing in her mind, the sense of immense power still tingling under her skin.

He'd had no idea what was wrong with her before when she had touched him, but now he was almost certain. And he knew what she meant by her question, but couldn't let her see that. Feigning ignorance, he asked,"What do you mean? Didn't we already go through the whole introduction thing?"and made sure to put a confused look on his face.

She swallowed hard and debated with herself on whether or not to ask again. She'd always been careful not to let people know who she was or the gift she had. If they knew.....the light in there eyes had always changed, sharpened on her. She'd made the mistake of letting the public know once, she would never let it happen again.

"Yes....yes, we did."she put a smile on her face, forced herself to be cheery."My mistake. I-I just remembered someone else. I'm sorry."even to her own ears the excuse sounded stupid, but she didn't know what else to say.

"That seems to happen everytime you touch me."he cocked his head, amazed she had gone from shaking and nervous, to calm and cool."Maybe its because you can't seem to keep your hands off me."

She looked up into his eyes and saw the scene again, of him kissing a woman as if he would never let go."Who is she?"she blurted out, watching the amused look on his face turn to confusion."I mean...I meant, are you seeing someone?"angry and embaressed she had just asked him that, she quickly fumbled for words."Its because I heard what a womanizer you are and I thought perhaps you were seeing someone, like Hotaru perhaps."

He considered her a moment, considered what she could really mean."I'm not seeing Hotaru."

That answered little and still made her wonder who the woman could be."Oh, well. I thought as much."needing room, she turned and began walking back to the cottage.

He quickly caught up with her."Fact is, I'm not seeing anyone."when she only slid him a look he couldn't interpret, he grew confused once again."How about you?"

She thought of Guy, then thought of the woman he had been kissing."Yes, I am."

The immediate rage that coursed through him was a surprise. He hadn't felt this way in so long, since her."Oh?"he tried and failed to keep the resentment from his voice.

When the sky darkened and thunder blasted out loud enough to make her jump, she grew angry with the odd country."What the hell is going on here? The sun was just out and now its black as night!"

"Perhaps you've angered someone."his voice was low, had chills running up her spine as she turned to look at him, saw his eyes were as black as the sky.

She wasn't sure what was going on with him, or the weather, but she didn't feel up to dealing with anyone at the moment. After seeing him with another woman, she just wanted to go inside and do her work."I'm going inside. I think you should leave now."she backed away from him, watching his eyes sharpen, watched as lightening lit the sky. She turned and raced into the house, attempting to slam the door, but failing when he slapped a hand on it and held it open."Elios, leave!"desperate and frightened now, she hurried away from him and behind the island in the kitchen, using it as a shield as he walked in and shut the door behind him. The moment he stepped in rain began to pelt the cottage fiercely outside, so hard she was sure it had turned to hail in mere seconds.

He stopped and stood, simply staring at her. Lightening struck just outside the window, causing her eyes to widen and her heart begin to pound. Something odd was going on here, something very odd."What are you going to do?"she could read fury in his eyes, and a murdering rage that brought fear into her as nothing ever had.

Nothing, nothing in years, had caused such rage in him. He couldn't see past the red hazing his vision, not even to how frightened she looked."What do you think?"he leaped over the island in a split second, trapped her back against the counter just as a small squeel escaped from her."Goddamnit, your so beautiful."his hand reached up and tangled into her hair, gripped and yanked her head back so she was forced to look into the fiery blue of his eyes."So fucking perfect. You always have been."

Before she could ask him what he meant by that he crushed his mouth on hers, slammed his large, hard body against her, and kissed her with such longing and such a desperation she wondered at it. Even as she opened to him, even as she felt the hard evidence of his desire for her against her stomache, she sensed a huge emotion inside him, felt it spread and seem to envelope her as his arms tightened and the kiss became almost too intense.

She brought her hands up and placed one on his heart, felt the rapid beating beneathe her palm. She had never openly looked into someone, never actually wanted too. The moments she touched a person and she felt something come from them was only because of there heightened emotion, and because she let her guard down. But this time she had been ready, had braced herself when he had grabbed her. Even then she hadn't been prepared for the swirling emotions inside him, so many she had been unable to prevent herself from seeing them.

The kiss softened, became slow and sweet, but just as intense and desperate as it been before. With his hand caressing her neck, with her hand on his heart, she opened herself to what was inside him.

It was shocking, thrilling, frightening all the things she immediately felt. Immense love, so much she wandered at it, and also bitter fury, betrayal, wounds that seemed to have existed for sometime and had never healed. And beyond that was the power, flash's of lightening and rumbling thunder, echoing through her mind and filling her with confusion. The power to control, to see, to take. The power to live.

She felt his hurt, his heartache and loneliness, saw this country filled with darkness, endless darkness that stretched for years. Felt his rage in those years, felt the deep hole that had been left in his heart. And as she felt, she saw one woman, standing by the river, her fiery hair blowing in the wind, standing alone and far from him, as if out of his reach. The same woman she had seen before, but this time she was a memory in him, only a memory he would live by.

Because she felt too much, because his emotions were mingling with hers and confusing her, she tore away just as thunder boomed outside, loud enough to rattle the windows of the cottage."Stop."she struggled for breath, struggled to find herself through it and stop everything she had seen."Please stop."

He was panting heavily, his chest rising and falling, his eyes a stormy blue."I need you."

She shook her head, held her hand up to hold him back when he stepped closer."Don't. I can't right now."she pressed a hand to her heart, wandered at the fear that leaked through."Don't touch me."

He heard how frightened she was and despised himself for it. And because he didn't want a repeat performance of what had happened so long ago, he stepped back from her, calmed the roaring emotions inside him."All right. I apologize for grabbing you like that. I'll leave now and I....I'll be in touch."turning abruptly, he left the cottage and her.

She watched him make his way to his truck, watched him get in and slam the door, then speed away. And as he left, the storm raged even wilder outside.




He drove home enraged, driving carelessly over the bumps in the road, speeding up to the huge estate located in solitude on top of a small hill. He screeched to a halt before it, slammed out of his truck and stomped up the walkway, ignoring the hail and wind that slashed at him.

Once inside, he stood in the entrance hallway, not even noticing when Hotaru came racing into the room and slammed the door behind him, keeping the icy wind out."Elios! What is WRONG with you?!"she shouted at him, brushing the sleet from herself.

Others came then, two men, both large in build and each exceptionally handsome. One had black hair and deeply set black eyes, the other the same black hair with blue eyes. They went to stand before him, the three brothers extremely handsome, all three containing unlimited power.

"You should stay away from her Taranis."Dispater, the second eldest said quietly, glancing outside at the fierce storm."Look at what she's caused in you."

"She didn't come for you."Tutates folded his arms across his chest, the youngest of the three brothers."She came to find herself."

"She came for ME!"he shouted, the storm screaming outside as the earth shook slightly beneathe there feet."And I will take what is mine!"

"Oh thats the way."Hotaru marched toward him, poking a finger into his chest."Thats exactly the way to get her. By saying things like that, by reacting the way you do."

"She is mine and always has been."he ground out through clenched teeth."I've waited for her and I will not release her this time."

"Its her choice, not yours. Can't you see that? Its always been hers."Hotaru sighed heavily."Will you please calm down?"

"How can I when she's there, right fucking there and I can't touch her?!"he would go insane, would surely lose the little sanity he had. Seeing her after so long, touching her and drinking in what he hadn't tasted for so long, teasing him with what he could take in one moment."I need her."he whispered almost to himself."I always have."

"This need has always been a mystery to me."Dispater said thoughtfully."She makes you weak Taranis."

"Don't call me that."he hissed at his sibling.

"Why? Because she gave you-"

"Thats enough!"Hotaru spoke firmly over Tutatus, seeing the beginnings of what would surely turn into a grand fight."He's pissed off enough and doesn't need you two making it worse!"

Dispater cocked a brow at her."Where's your accent, cagaran?"

She sniffed at him."I choose to speak how I want too when I want too."she said haughtily.

Tutatus ran a hand down her sleek, dark hair, hair as black as there's."You've grown much too wild annsachd."he commented, smiling when she tossed her hair.

"This isn't about me, its about him."she touched Elios' arm, felt the violent current beneathe."Please calm down. I haven't seen you like this in so long......"she trailed off, all of them knowing he hadn't acted so carelessly since her.

He took even breaths, and even though on the outside he looked calm, inside the storm still raged as fiercely as it did outside."I'm better."

Hotaru slid a look outside, then back at him."Sure you are."but since she knew words and pleas would do nothing, she placed her cheek next to his, rubbed her hands up and down his arms."Elios, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry about this."

He let himself indulge in her warmth, the strength and caring family would always give. He should have known his brothers would ruin that.

"Stop spoiling him caragan."Dispater said with some disgust."This weakness is his alone."

"We are here to help him through it."Hotaru snapped at him."The two of you never understood it, but you could have helped him cope."

"I need to sleep."weary now and filled with sorrow, he pushed back from Hotaru and went to the stairs, climbing up them slowly."Don't bother me tonight."

Tutatus glared after him."He's done fine without her so far, why should he think he needs her now?"

"Because everyone needs someone. And one day the two of you will understand that."




*****
He dreamt of her that night, under a full moon with the stars twinkling teasingly in the sky, with a soft, cool breeze ruffling through the grass and over the hills toward the shadowy figures of a woman and a man. Thunder rumbled in the sky, dark clouds gathering overhead as lightening split the air and landed some distance away, but with enough force to have the small woman jumping.

He reached out, touched her cheek in the dream, like he had so many times before."I'm sorry. You know I have trouble controlling it yet."

She nodded, but her eyes shimmered with a fear he couldn't see."I'm just so glad to see you."

"I will always be glad to see you. It will be my life."he leaned in, touched his lips to hers, mistaking the tremble of fear that swept over her body for desire."Stay."he murmured, his voice heavy with longing."Come with me to my home, stay with me through the night. Let me wake to you."

She placed a hand on his chest, felt the power simmering beneathe her fingertips."I....I can't. You know I can't."

Her taste, her touch, filled his heart with such a longing he was sure it would break. He loved her so savagely, so violently it worried him sometimes, but he always pushed the doubts away. Even when they were together he felt sorrow at the moment they would have to walk from each other, a deep pain he had no control over.

She went with him to his home that night, went with him only that time. He took her to his bed, touched her and caressed her, watched her rise to passion, to gracefully fall in his arms. He took her time and again, held her to him even after he had fallen asleep.
*****

In his bed, he reached for her as he had so long ago, enveloped only cool sheets as he had once, and groaned with heartache and pain when he felt nothing. And trapped in dreams, where pride and anger have no matter, he wept.




When she woke the next morning the storm seemed to have passed, but there were still clouds darkening the sky. The day was dreary, sad and bleak, and cold enough to have her slamming the windows shut against the fierce wind blowing through them. She put on a thick sweater and snug jeans, peering outside at the whisteling wind that seemed desperate to come inside her cottage.

Annoyed with the weather and muttering under her breath as she put on coffee, she jumped when there was a knock at the front door, pressed a hand to her heart and stared at the door. Embaressed now and even more annoyed with herself, she made sure to smooth her hair down before answering it.

When she opened it she found two men standing there, both tall and tough in build, both dark and dangerously handsome. They were obviously brothers, but there features were each different. One had sharp cheekbones and a sharp jaw, his face almost savage in appearance. The other also had sharp cheekbones, but a smoother jaw, with sensual lips and devastatingly beautiful blue eyes.

They were studying her with mild interest just as she studied them and when she managed to come back to herself, noted how the blue eyed one had seemed to like what he saw and was smiling, his eyes showing frank male interest. The other continued to eye her cooly, but with a sharp desire in his eyes.

"Can I help you?"she finally managed, aware that she had just opened the door to two strange men in a country empty but for the rolling hills and icy wind.

"Rene Taischa? Elios' painter?"the blue eyed one asked, his voice rumbling and low.

She straightened, made sure her eyes were hard."Who's asking?"handsome or not, they were strangers.

"We're his brothers."the blue eyed one extended his hand, dark and strong."I'm Dispater."

She frowned."Dispater? Thats an odd name."she made sure to adjust the mittens she'd put on that morning before taking his hand, shaking it and feeling herself relax. There was just something comforting in his eyes."Well, its good to meet you."she cocked a brow at the other man.

"Tutatus."he also shook her hand, amazed she was even more beautiful now then she had been before."Its a pleasure to meet you."he was quiet a moment."Would you like to have dinner with me?"

She laughed and the tension disolved from her body."Maybe. Come in."she stepped back and opened the door wider.

They walked through the door and seemed to fill the tiny kitchen with there size and strength."How are you finding the cottage?"

"I've only been here for....two days, but I love it. Except for the weather, everything is just beautiful. I had been hoping to get out and go exploring, see the sights, but its way too cold and looks like rain."she went to the cupboards, took out a cup and poured herself coffee."Would you two like some?"

Tutatus seemed to take the question as an insult, but Dispater nodded, his eyes warm."Yes, please."

She turned and took out another cup, filled it and handed it to him."Nice brother, mean brother."she observed, watching them both freeze and stare at her in shock."I'm right, right?"

Dispater threw back his head and laughed while Tutatus gave her his first real grin."I'd be surprised if you didn't come to that conclusion right away."he leaned toward her, his eyes darkening."Your better off with the mean one. I'd give you a hell of a time."

"I believe it too."but she took a safe, deliberate step back from him."So your all brothers huh? I can see the resemblance, but why do you two have black hair and Elios white?"

"Elios recieved it along with his....."Dispater halted, seemed to rethink what he'd been about to say."Our mother had white hair."

"Hereditary then. Well its a bit out of the ordinary, but he pulls it off perfectly."

"Attracted to him, are you?"Dispater studied her expression.

She shrugged."What woman wouldn't be? He's gorgeous. But then, so are the two of you. Must run in the family."she tilted her head to the side, her long, curling hair falling over her shoulder."Who's older?"

"I am."Dispater said."But Elios is the oldest."

"Well then. I guess I'm just going to have to decide who suits me more."she was delighted when Dispater frowned and Tutatus perked up.

"Have dinner with me."Tutatus asked her once again, taking her hand and kissing it lavishly."I'll take you to Paris, Italy, or Milan. Wherever you prefer your dinner."

Playing along and not realizing he was serious, she asked,"Rome?"

"Whatever you wish alainn."Tutatus reached out, touched her fiery hair."You know your much too beautiful for me not to hit on."

"And you have to STOP right now."Dispater cut in, annoyed Tutatus was putting that considering look in her eye."She doesn't need you pushing her or bribing her."

Tutatus merely licked her palm, watched her smile."I don't need to use bribery, my dear older brother."

"No, I'm sure between your looks and that confidence, you don't need to work for anything from a woman."she had to admit, she herself found that appealing, but Dispater's calmness and rugged looks tugged at her stronger."How about you Dispater? Girlfriend? Wife?"

"Neither. I'm single and hoping you are too."

"It just so happens I am."

Tutatus snorted with disgust and released her hand."I don't believe it. Rejected because of my own brother."

She laughed, patted his cheek."There's always the chance he and I don't click."

"Then would you like to have dinner with me?"Dispater asked hopefully.

She studied him, tapping her finger to her lips. He was absolutely gorgeous and seemed decent enough. She couldn't quite place why she felt so relaxed with him, so drawn to him. But since her instincts told her to at least give him a chance, she decided to listen.

"All right. You can take me to dinner."she had considered cooking for him, but that always came before sex for her and even if she was
comfortable with him, it didn't mean she would sleep with him.

Perhaps there was a reason to Elios' weakness, Dispater thought when she smiled at him. She certainly was beautiful, but even then there was something in her, a pull he felt. He'd felt it before, but Elios had put a stop to that.

He bent and kissed her cheek."Thank you."

"Your welcome. Now, are you two going to stay and keep me company, or let me get to work?"

"We should go."Dispater was delighted Rene had accepted, but also mindful of his brother. Elios wouldn't like the fact that they had a date."How about tonight I pick you up at seven?"

"That sounds fine. I'll be here."

"Good, good. Lets go Tutatus."

"You've broken my dreams, Rene. I can only hope you realize Dispater's an idiot soon."

She laughed softly as she walked them to the door. It was wonderful to have such good looking men hitting on her so hard."We'll see how things work out, but I'll be sure to keep you in mind."

"See that you do."she watched them walk back to the truck they'd come in, waved when they drove away. Just as she was preparing to shut the door she noticed another car coming, recognizing it to be Hotaru's now.

Wondering how she could have so many visitors in such a quiet country, she waited for Hotaru to come, shivering against the onslaught of icy wind. When the dark haired woman pulled up and jumped out, she walked to the door, wearing only a turtle neck and jeans.

"Aren't you cold?"Rene asked her as she allowed her in and shut the door.

"Weathers brisk today."Hotaru removed her scarf and placed it on the coathanger near the door, sniffing the air."You've made coffee then? Would you be giving me a cup?"

"Ah, so you are cold then. Come on in the kitchen. The coffee will warm you up."

"Bah! Cold? ME?! Thats an insult, it is. Coffee will wake me from this slumber I have yet to chase."she took the cup Rene offered, swallowed a healthy amount."Ah, the gods own gift. I preferred tea when I was a girl, but there's nothing better then a strong shot of caffiene."

Rene was watching her absently, wrapping her finger around her long hair as she thought of Dispater."Hhmm? Whats that?"

Hotaru narrowed her eyes."Your soft of head, Rene Taischa. Who's caught your eye?"

She chuckled softly."Other then Elios? This guy I met today. Minutes ago actually. He's tall, dark, and handsome."she giggled helplessly at the description."Sounds cliche, doesn't it? But he is. Black hair, blue eyes, gorgeous, a killer body. Oh, and his butt is just....yummy."

Hotaru could feel herself becoming angry."Black hair, blue eyes you said? Its Dispater you speak of."

"Thats right. Do you know him?"she straightened, reading the glint of fury in Hotaru's eyes well."Oh no. Your not....dating him, are you? He said he was single. Did he lie to me? It would figure, all men-"

"No, the man's as free as they come."she set the coffee cup back on the kitchen counter, went into the living room and sat heavily on the
sofa before the fire Rene had built that morning."He asked you out?"

Rene followed her, trying to gauge her mood."Yes."she said cautiously, standing by just in case she had to make a break for it.

"Its no surprise to me the man would. Bloody idiot."she swore under breath, not noticing Rene's brows lift."I'll have to let it be. There's nothing I can do."

What an odd thing to say, Rene thought. It sounded somehow familiar to her."Well.....thanks I think."

Hotaru turned and looked at her."He's handsome, I'll give him that, but a moron. He's in for hell now."

She frowned."Were only going out to dinner. What harm is there in that?"

"Only harm to this country and himself. He'll be learning that and you'll be seeing my meaning soon enough."




He didn't go to the office that day. He came downstairs late, made himself breakfast and ate it absently. His head and eyes hurt. He'd woken with a ferocious headache and with the vague pain of a night he'd experienced sometime ago. The combination of these had put him in a foul mood.

He'd just finished showering and dressing and was coming downstairs when the front doors opened, Dispater and Tutatus walking in. They were laughing, a rare sight for him. His brothers were always so serious. He stopped and stared at them.

He noticed the look in Dispater's eye, recognizing it as arrogant confidence. Only a woman could put a look like that in a man's eye. Smiling now and feeling a bit better, he wondered what woman could have done that.

"Whats going on?"he called out, moving down to join them and not seeing the way Dispater froze and Tutatus grinned.

"Feeling better this morning?"Dispater asked, hoping to change the subject.

"Dispater's got a date tonight."Tutatus cut in, still grinning when Dispater shot him a hostile glare. It would be an amusing sight indeed to see his brothers go a round.

"You? A date?"Elios couldn't deny he was intrigued."Since when do you lower yourself enough to date?"

"I have needs like every other man."

"Needs easily met by faceless women."he cocked his head, considering how uncomfortable he was making him."So who is she?"

"No one important. We went into the city and I met her."

"Went into the city? You two? Now I know somethings wrong."deciding the go about it the easy way, he expanded his mind, touched his younger brothers.

And felt his vision haze red at what he saw.

"You bastard."Elios hissed, his fists clenching at his sides, preparing for battle."You son of a bitch. I'll KILL you before I allow-"

"Calm down."Dispater snapped."She agreed to it. If she hadn't, I wouldn't have pushed."

"I don't give a shit if she agreed! There's no way in hell I'll allow you to touch her, to even go near her! You-"

"Have a date tonight."Dispater answered, his voice low and full of warning."And I don't expect you to ruin that. You've had no say in my life before and your not going to begin to now."

Elios began to advance on him, but Hotaru came flying through the front doors, planting herself between them and holding them apart."Stop."she panted out, her eyes darting from one to the other."Don't do this. God, you guys are brothers!"

"Tell him that. He seems to have forgotten."Elios could feel the electric shocks vibrating from his fingertips and was glad Hotaru had come when she had."Your risking a lot for this Dispater."

"She's worth it."he shot back.

"Elios, go."Hotaru gave him a little push."GO!"

He knew she was trying to seperate them, trying to keep some sanity because a fight between them could result in more harm to the country then to one another. Even if he'd always resented his responsibility, he respected it. After one last glare directed toward Dispater, he turned and left there home.

She turned slowly toward the others."Dispater, he's right in his anger. You KNOW how long he's waited."

"I do. But I also took a chance for myself. If its selfish, then it is."

She shook her head."I love you both, but in this I can only hope Rene makes the right decision."




She'd spent the afternoon finishing her sketch for the cottage, taking it inside and beginning to paint it onto canvas. She'd changed into sweats and an old shirt, setting up her canvas in the front living room and opening the curtains to windows so she could gaze outside. It was a beautiful sight, with the sun flickering faintly over the rich land.

The sun began to set and she checked her watch, deciding it was time to go shower and change for her date. Filled with anticipation, she showered quickly and dressed in a thick, gold turtleneck, with snug fitting black jeans and boots. Leaving her long hair loose to tumble down her back in rioting curls, she smoothed on light eyeshadow and lip balm that left her lips glowing. When she checked herself in the mirror of her bedroom, she smiled. Dispater was in for a surprise.

When she heard the knock come at the door, she fluffed her hair and went to answer it, stepping back to admire him.

He looked even more gorgeous then he had when she had seen him earlier. He wore a black turtleneck and black trousers, his hair ruffled by the wind, his blue eyes turning opaque as he studied her.

Running her tongue along her teeth, she smiled at him."You look good."

"I'm sorry. All the blood just drained out of my head."

She laughed, wondering what it was about him that made her feel so at ease. Reaching back for her purse and coat, she stepped out and closed the door behind her."I like you Dispater."

"Thats good because I like you too."taking her hand, he led her to his car.

The minute he'd stepped around and into his side, a light drizzle began to fall, causing him to frown deeply. She noticed and asked,"What is it?"

"Its nothing."muttering something under his breath, he turned the car on and drove out onto the bumpy road.




He took her to dinner, to an exceptionally beautiful restaurant where she could immediately tell the food cost more then the usual penny. But it didn't seem to matter to him as he told her to order whatever she wanted and when the waiter came, ordered the most expensive wine they had.

After dinner, they went outside and waited for his car to be brought around. They waited inside the lobby of the restaurant, the rain coming down fiercely now outside, along with booming thunder and slash's of lightening. When the car had been brought around, Dispater draped his jacket over her head, covering her as they ran down to the waiting car, standing over her until she was inside. Running around to his side, he got in and slammed the door shut, annoyed because he was almost soaked.

She studied his profile, reached over and put her hand over his, catching his attention."Your all wet. We should go back to my place so you can dry off."her voice was lazy, low and full of unmistakeable seduction.

He glanced at her, surprised, but immediately grinned."If you say so."

Once they'd arrived at the cottage the wind was howling madly, the rain coming down harder then before. It seemed to her someone was angry, in a rage, by the way the weather was acting.

They raced inside, Rene shutting the door behind them and locking the ferocious storm out."God, I've never seen such a storm. I thought yesterday was bad, but this is worse."

He grunted."Do you want me to get a fire going?"

She smiled at him."Yes, please. I'll go get some blankets while you do."she went down the hall to the closet at the end, taking out a thick blanket and bring it back with her. When she entered the living room there was a crackling fire in the fireplace, with Dispater standing and staring down at it thoughtfully.

She liked the look of him, so strong and ruggedly good looking. Approaching him, she ran her hand down his arm, felt the muscle beaneathe. And thought suddenly of Elios.

Annoyed by her train of thought and the odd guilt she felt, she went and sat on the sofa, patting the seat next to her."Come on, sit back and relax."

Smiling softly, he went and sat next to her, enjoying how she snuggled back against him. Following her lead, he put his arms around her and rested his cheek on her hair."Why is it your so at ease with me?"

She shrugged, snuggled more comfortable into his arms."I don't know. I can't explain it myself, but....there's just something about you."

He knew what it was. She had trusted him long ago as well. People usually carried past emotions with them."Well I'm glad you trust me."

"Me too."they sat quietly for a moment."Its still so wierd to me how you and Tutatus resemble each other, but Elios looks so different. It must be the hair, but even then....well, I suppose he took after other relatives in your family."

Dispater shifted, a bit uncomfortable."Elios takes after himself. He....he's very independent."when he said this a roar of thunder was heard outside, causing Rene to jump.

"God!"pressing a hand to her heart, she stared outside."I would swear someone was pissed off tonight."

Cursing Elios, he didn't notice Rene lean back against him again, then tilt her head up to gaze at him, deliberately leaving herself open to kiss."Hey, where are you?"she reached her hand up and touched his cheek.

He glanced down, noticed the way she stared up at him and actually felt himself turning red."Oh...I was just thinking."

She wondered why he didn't take the opening she had left him."Oh? Of what? Me, I hope."

"Of my brother."of Elios. Guilt was now beginning to nag at him and he knew it was time to take his leave. He'd been blown away by her before and blinded by how gorgeous she was and that had made him retaliate against Elios' anger. He could only imagen how angry, but more hurt Elios was at the moment.

Sighing heavily, he bent and brushed his lips across her forehead, then gently nudged her aside and stood."I better go."

No man had ever done this to her. She wasn't sure if she liked it or was insulted by it."Are you sure? You could stay and we could...talk."running her hands up and down his arms, she pressed herself against him, rising on tiptoe to lay her lips on his.

Even a dead man couldn't help and react to such a beautiful woman who was so obviously hinting he could stay and have a spectacular time. Enjoying the kiss for a moment, he took it deeper when she opened her mouth under his, tongue's tangling and breaths mingling.

He pulled back when his head began to swim and his eyes cross."Thanks for the invitation, but I really should go."he touched her cheek."Maybe some other time."

"All right. If you want too."she went with him to the door, purposely angling her body to his."Good night."

"Oiche."kissing her cheek, he turned and walked out into the storm, disappearing into the night.

The moment he'd gone the storm calmed, causing her to frown. The rain stopped slashing, the wind stopped howling, and the night stood still. Frightened by the sudden change, she slammed the door shut.

And found herself thinking of Elios.




He drove home, entered to find Elios waiting at the bottom of the stairs."That was quite a show you put on."he said dryly, removing his coat and hanging it up.

Elios merely stared at him."You touched her."

Dispater raised his hands."Hey, barely. You should know that."he squinted at him."You should also know she wanted me too."

"But its me she thinks of now."Elios smiled slowly, watched his younger brother snarl."Its me who was on her mind during your dinner, during the storm, and still now. How does that make you feel?"

He wanted to shout and throw fists, but instead sighed heavily and glared at his brother."Used. Pretty damn used. Even when I kissed her.....I knew she wasn't really kissing me. Have the two of you....?"

"Yes, we have. She remembers in her heart, if not in her mind."Elios nodded."Heart recognizes heart."

"Your right."he rubbed his eyes."I'm going to go to bed. Elios....."he cursed under his breath. There was pride and there was anger. He'd always had too much of both."I'm going to bed."

Elios smirked after him. He knew what Dispater had been trying to say, or apologize. It was good to know that even though his brothers could be selfish and a royal pain in the ass, they were his brothers and would stand by him. And attempt to understand something they had never felt themselves.

He'd left Rene to herself long enough. She'd had enough time to think and consider every emotion he'd stirred in her. It was time to pay her a visit.




****
Thunder rumbled threateningly in the sky, while lightening cracked in hot waves, and the air trembled its fury. The earth was alive with anger, with rage, and she felt terror.

She'd come to the river on an impulse, followed some unnamed emotion she couldn't place, and it had led her here on a night when the gods seemed to be particularly angry. Hoping she hadn't incurred there wrath, she drew her shawl tighter around her, stood silently by the river, waiting.....waiting......

And she felt him then. Like a tingling along her back, like a cold chill that slithered over her body, she felt him. Fearing the unknown, but needing to see, she turned toward it, toward him, and faced her fear.

****



She was relieved when the day dawned bright and early, with a rainbow in the sky and only a slight chill in the air. Pleased with her luck, she took her canvas outside and began working on her painting of the cottage.

As she mixed color and stroked it over her work, she wondered on the small village she had seen on the way over. Hotaru had mentioned it was the closest thing Rene had to civilization, since the city was actually miles away. Hotaru had told her the small village was a little over a mile away and whenever Rene wanted, she could take a walk and go there, meet people, find possibilities.

Perhaps it was a day for possibilities, she mused.

She needed something to take her mind from the dreams that had chased her during the night. She had never dreamt odd dreams in her life. She'd always considered herself to lead a normal, healthy existence, but lately that existence seemed to be constantly put to the test.

She'd never before had a care for dreams either, but last night....it had seemed so familiar to her. The storm, the river, and the woman. She had BEEN the woman. She'd felt her fear, felt her anticipation, felt her when she had felt it, felt him. She'd felt the rain slash at her, felt the cold of it seep into her bones, felt the terror when lightening had crashed very near.

Shaking herself, she scolded herself on being such an idiot. Dreams were dreams and nothing more. Sometimes some were so real, you actually thought they were real, but they weren't. That was the case here.

Her mind wondered to that broach she'd recieved the week before. She recalled the woman by the river and the man watching her engraved into it. So many pieces to a puzzle, all seeming to want to come together, but where? In Elios' mind was that same image, in her dreams, and in a broach she had in her pocket.

What could it mean?

Irratated because her mind was being distracted from her work, she focused her mind on the painting, studying the colors she blended together intently. This first work was coming out extremely well, and she actually considered keeping it for herself, but knew she couldn't. She'd come out here on a job, to work for Elios. Perhaps she'd paint a few things before she left to go home and take them with her.

She stopped when the thought crossed her mind. She hadn't even thought of leaving, hadn't even missed her cold, big empty beach
house back in the states. She'd been there for three days and she thought by now she would have missed home and wanted to return. Even thinking of leaving gave her a great sadness.

Looking back at the cottage, she could swear she heard a woman's laughter, occumpanied by a man's deep, rich voice, begging her for something. Frowning, she continued to stare, felt her eyes burn as if the sun was too bright, her head go light as the paintbrush slipped from her fingers, and heard the laughter grow higher, higher, reaching toward her.
*****
"And what will you give me, my handsome king?"the voice was teasing, low and female.

"The world, m'eudail. I would give you the stars, the Moon, the treasures of the world."the voice was so familiar, with a deep longing.

"Is that all?"she heard her laughter, saw her toss her long, fiery curls over her shoulder."And what if I ask for more?"

"Then I would give it to you. Anything, m'eudail. Cuin bhur seach bhuam, cridhe a'ris doruinn."he spoke in the tongue of his blood, the Gaelic words imprinting themselves into her heart and mind. Drifting, she felt tears come to her eyes, and understood what he had said.
*****

"Rene? Rene! Wake up honey, you fainted."she heard him, faint and achingly familiar, as the other voice had been. The sun didn't burn her eyes and her head wasn't as light either. Bringing a hand up to grip the strong arm supporting her, she opened her eyes.

Elios was kneeling next to her, holding her in his arms, looking terrified. Blinking a moment, she heard the wind blow teasingly around them, felt the warmth of the sun touching her face. But she heard no laughter from a woman, no Gaelic that she understood.

It couldn't be, she thought. It had to have been him speaking to her."What did you mean?"but she knew, for some odd reason, she'd understood.

He frowned, swallowing his fear. She was so pale."Mean?"

"I heard.....you said...."she tried sitting up, only to fall back on him when the world took one sick spin."Shit."

"Don't! Stay put! God."swearing, cursing under his breath, he swept her up into his arms, walking with her into the cottage and lying her down on the sofa."Don't move. I-I'll make tea."he turned and went into the kitchen, going through the cupboards where he knew he had put
the tea bags.

He'd come driving down the road in time to see her staring at the cottage, through the cottage, before she'd dropped her paintbrush and her eyes had rolled into the back of her head, falling gracefully to the ground. He didn't think he'd ever felt such fear, such terror before in his life. She'd lay there so still, her face so pale.

When he'd gathered her up, she'd been murmuring, rocking, laughing softly under her breath. She'd spoken, muttered something he hadn't been able to interpret in Gaelic, then murmuring in pain, in heartache, he'd watched the tears leek from her eyes.

He hadn't been able to bear it any longer and had brought her back from the past, a past he knew was haunting her more now that she had returned to her home.

When he caught his hands shaking as he poured the water he had boiled into the cups, he stopped, took a breath and a moment to calm. When he felt he was steady again, he finished pouring the tea and walked back out to her.

She had a hand to her damp cheeks as she stared outside, her eyes distant and with a thoughtful look in them. When he came toward her and sat next to her, she blinked, seemed to struggle to focus on him. She took the cup from him and drank, burning her tongue.

They sat in silence for a time, before she finally spoke."What did you see when you came?"

He knew what she meant, but took his time answering."You were staring at the cottage, but....it was almost as if you were staring through it. As if you weren't really seeing it."he shook his head."Then you fainted."

She drank again, more slowly."Is that all?"

"I'm not sure if you want to hear this-"

"Tell me."

He glanced at her, saw her staring intently at him."When I got to you you were talking, laughing softly. You weren't speaking English, you were speaking...."

"Gaelic?"she supplied.

He nodded."Gealic. I couldn't make it out because you were mumbling, then you started to cry."he reached up, touched her cheeks that
were still damp with her tears."What made you cry?"

She shook her head slowly."I'm not sure. I had a....vision, I think."but in her dreams now, not in her waking hours. She'd only ever had visions from touching other people. Now she was having them inside herself."I think I'm going crazy."

"Your not crazy, m'eudail."he said it gently.

She jerked back as if she had been burned."What did you say?"

He frowned and dropped the hand she had pulled away from."I said 'your not crazy.'"

"No, no. After that."her hands were beginning to tremble, her head reel. She deliberately scooted away from him, watched him frown.

"Rene, whats wrong?"

"What did you say?!"she half shouted.

"M'eudail. It means-"

"My treasure, my darling."she whispered, moving far enough so that they were no longer touching."How do I know that? How can I actually know that? I've never heard or spoken Gaelic in my life."

Not in this life, he almost said, but bit it back. She didn't look to be ready to hear that just yet."I don't know how you knew that, but don't worry so much about it."he reached for her and was shocked when she jumped up and away from him.

"Don't touch me! Don't come near me!"he sounded like him, was all she could think. God, what did it mean?

He stood slowly, carefully, kept his hands up so she could see them."Rene, calm down. I'm not sure whats going on here, but you need
to just calm down."he cocked his head, hoping to anger her and distract her."I came by hoping we could finish what we had started the other day."

His plan worked, making her face turn red."What? What! Get out! Your dispicable! I'm dating your brother, or didn't he tell you? He's a much better kisser then you are!"

"Shall we put that to the test?"advancing on her, he watched her eyes go wide with shock.

When he hauled her into his arms, she slapped a hand on his chest, holding him off."Stop it. Don't you dare."but her body was already responding to his, her mind whispering to her how perfectly they fit together.

He raised a brow, his blue eyes lazy."Dare? You shouldn't have said that."before she could protest, he had covered her mouth with his.

It was exactly the same as it had been before, if not better. The onslaught of desire caught her off guard, but not before she responded, straining her body against his, angling her head as he took the kiss deeper, as his hand came up and wrapped into her curling, fiery hair and gripped.

She felt his other hand slide down her back and cup her bottom, grinding her hips into his as he used tongue and teeth to drive her mad.

When the kiss slowed, when it gentled into something that caused her insides to melt, she heard weeping, heard it faintly at first until it grew louder and louder. She saw him alone, in a bed that looked to have belonged to a female. He lay in the middle, clutching the sheets as his large, strong body was wracked with sobs, his lonliness and despair tearing at her.

She didn't realize she was crying again until he had pulled back from her and was touching the tears."Rene, why are you crying?"he asked, his hold on her turning gentle.

She looked at him, the image of him still in her eyes, the sound of his sobs echoing in her ears."Why were you?"

He frowned."What? What do you mean?"

She shook her head, closing her eyes tight for a moment and willing the image away."Its nothing. I was just....its nothing."pulling out of his arms, she ordered herself to calm down and not let him see how upset she was becoming. Sitting back down, she picked up the tea she had put on the living room coffee table, took a sip."So what are you doing here?"

He decided to let it slide. This time."Visiting you."he sat next to her and also sipped his tea."I heard my brothers came for a visit as well."

She didn't see the way his fists tightened when she smiled slowly."Yea they came for a visit. I also went out with Dispater last night."she slid him a look, disappointed when she saw only mild curiousity.

"Did you? Did you two have a good time?"

Pouting a bit, she made sure to plaster a smile and let out a long, satisfied sigh."He took me to dinner, then we came back here and....relaxed."

His temper had its limits and she was walking a very thin line."Stop trying to piss me off Rene."

She batted her lash's and feigned surprise."What do you mean? I'm only telling you the truth. Oh yea, by the way."she stood and walked toward the kitchen, paused to look over her shoulder."He's the better kisser."laughing softly, she disappeared into the next room.

He told himself not to listen, told himself to just get up and walk away, but he'd never been able to where she was concerned. He was striding into the next room before he could talk himself out of it.

When he saw her standing there, pouring herself more tea, he felt jealousy and rage explode inside him somewhere. He's shown no hostility toward her, no anger for what she had done to him once. Now it came out in hot waves."Do you like doing that?"

She jumped, whirled to stare at him and swallowed the bubble of fear that had risen in her throat. He looked frightening, with his blue eyes swirling with anger, and his voice eerily calm. She edged back, bumped into the kitchen counter, and felt fear rising inside."Like doing what?"

He took one step closer, just one."Shoving in my face that you were with my brother."another step."That you let him touch you, let him taste you."

She tossed her curls over her shoulder, looked him in the eye when he took another step and was so close she could feel his body heat radiating into hers."I let whoever I want touch me."she shoved her face purposely into his, there noses almost touching."I'm an independent woman."

He grabbed her shoulders so tight she flinched, but he was beyond seeing that now."Goddamn you."he hissed it, his eyes turning a stormy silver before her very eyes, thunder bellowing outside, lightening screeching across the sky."Damn you, you never saw it."he shook her sharply."You never cared. You LEFT me!"he shouted into her face, shocking her.

She had no idea what he was talking about, but his eyes and the change of weather were terrifying her."Let me go. Elios, let me go!"

"I did."suddenly aching, he released her, staggering away and leaning heavily against the island in the middle of the kitchen."I did let you go. And look where it got me."

She needed to breathe, needed to catch her breath and calm her racing heart. No one had ever made her feel such terror before in her life. And for some reason the terror was familiar where he was concerned.

"I think you should leave."she whispered carefully, watching him look up at her, his eyes once again blue."You should go now."

He turned away from the fear in her eyes, turned away because the look was an all too familiar one for him. He had instilled that fear into her before and he had realized it too late.

He wouldn't make the same mistakes twice.

"I'm sorry. I....I'm sorry."giving her one last glance, he strode out the front door.

She went to the window and watched him get into his truck, watched him lean his head against the steering wheel for a moment, then turn the ignition on and drive off.

And watched with confusion, as the truck disappeared into the distance, the dark clouds billowing overhead follow him.






Stay tuned for Chapter 3!~sailorperfect@yahoo.com