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Subject: Chapter 197 - Part 2 (end of chapter 197)

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Date Posted: Friday, July 15, 07:37:05am
In reply to: KatherineGilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark - Chapter 193 and onwards" on Thursday, July 07, 07:06:24am

Michael came in quietly, closing the door behind him, before approaching to hold out a small sandwich to her. "Eat," he instructed softly. She had to smile. Only he would realize that she needed it; she took it, if barely half-willingly, as he sat down near her. But she didn't realize that this was only one of his motives in finding her now.

He was watching her worriedly, his mind turning, as she started to pick at the food, forcing herself to eat a little of it. Her decided lack of appetite would have made him wonder whether he weren't a father-to-be, had there not been a decided lack of opportunity for such closeness of late. Besides, after their one night together those few months ago--and his various desires after the fact--he had decided that it was much safer, if they waited till their official wedding date to be so close again. They already had so many factors going against them. They really didn't need to have to fight another public battle now.

He watched her eat, then, even if she seemed a little unwilling, his fears finally coming out. They had had little opportunity to talk in private since their trip to New York--their schedules always kept busy, their exhaustion on their rides home each night so deep--and both of them had been too tormented during their trip to discuss much of what had happened. Still, he started with his current fear. "You have to eat, Nikita." She looked up at him, a little surprised, before smiling quietly. "No one's going to benefit, if you don't." Or, at least, no one anyone sane would want to.

She knew this, really, nodded, as she looked away. But her words were the truth, as she saw them. "I'm just not hungry."

There was a sigh, as he heard this, knowing he needed to address it; it was clearly a symptom of her real problems, not the disease itself. "Why not?" She just shook her head, not answering. "Is it the wedding?"

This was a polite way of referring to all their real fears, but she didn't address them yet--her gaze still distant, forcing herself to nibble at the sandwich. Her words were meant as a consolation, not wanting him to doubt. "I want to marry you, Michael."

His head shook. "You *are* married to me, 'Kita." Her surprised eyes found his--his look so intent. "You've been my wife for over nine months."

Oh, Michael. She closed her eyes finally, giving in, leaning toward him, as his arm held her lightly, his hand in her hair; there was a slight smile on her lips. She had meant to soothe him, but he had been the one to bring her consolation; she felt his lips on the top of her head and tried to draw the comfort he offered into herself--understanding his truths. They had already exchanged vows in private, had both meant them. Now, the battle was to stay together, despite everything their enemies might try.

She drew some comfort from this fact, from the knowledge of his love--her thoughts a little ironic, as she accepted them. After all, no woman but she had yet gotten him down the aisle; her smile grew wider, before it seemed to collapse. Now, if only anyone knew about it . . .

It was this truth which made her draw back, wanting to explain--his quiet love having opened her soul a little. It was only a shame that one or the other of them kept closing down so much. "Not publicly," she whispered finally.

There was a nod from her partner, his understanding more complete than he would have liked. Still, it wasn't this fact in itself he focused on. "But it's not the separation which worries you." Living in different houses was a bit of a trial but didn't affect their bond; her sad eyes told him that he had found the truth. "It's . . ."

She didn't let him finish, looking away. "Please don't." She just couldn't bear to think about what was coming.

She had pulled away from him, was once more desultorily forcing herself to nibble at her food--but the depth of her sadness was killing him. He knew she wasn't trying to push him away, wasn't asking for a way out, but her fears of Madeline's plans were clearly growing far faster than she could manage them. "We'll be alright, 'Kita." His gaze was so certain. "I won't let anything happen to you."

This should have been a comfort, should have aided her mood, but his determination only brought out several more of her terrors--her eyes finding his once more. "How can you stop it?" Her head shook, the sorrow so much deeper now. "How can either of us stop it anymore?"

"'Ki-ta," he tried again, but she held up her hand, shaking her head. All the good intentions in the world weren't helping her now.

Her look was quiet, but the sorrow in it went deep, seemed to have taken hold of her soul--like some sort of cancer metastasizing; he wasn't even certain he could save her, her fears so clear, her voice soft. "I know you want to protect me." She put down the sandwich, any attempt at lunch forgotten, her hand coming up to caress his face. "I love you for that." Still, her sigh lingered. "But I don't want this--any of it. I don't want to have to keep on running."

The moment lingered between them, her sorrow now echoed in his gaze, as she finally looked away. She seemed about to cry but was determined to get her idea out. "Maybe we would both be better off if . . ."

She couldn't finish, left him there, but he understood too well. "If we were apart?" Her look told him that he had found her truth. But he wouldn't let her keep it, knew it wasn't real; something in his eyes pressed the facts home. "Would that stop any of this anymore?"

Oh. She had to look away, was doing her best to fight back the tears. She knew he was telling the truth, but . . .

God, he hated to see her in this sort of pain. There was a deep sigh, as he forced himself on, needing so badly to get her out of her despair--or as best as she could be, given their situation. "This isn't what I want, either. And I won't do any more than I have to to keep you safe." Her eyes started to move back to him, as he discovered her true concern. "But I will make certain that both of us live to be together."

It was partly this she feared, however--or, at least, she feared the paths which would lead them there; he knew it, tried to comfort her. "Neither of us chose this. Neither of us would. But, no matter what we do, whether we're together or not, we'll have to face it." His look grew so much deeper, making his love clear. "And, even if you turn away, I'll still do what I have to to keep you safe."

Her eyes were full of tears now, her whole soul fighting against them--with little success--so afraid of what both of them might have to become in order to survive this. Still, his strong, adoring look went on, his words continuing--trying to understand. "What led to this, 'Kita? Why are you so sad now?"

This might have seemed an odd question, given what they were facing, but she understood, knew he was only concerned about what had pushed her into such an immediate depression. She finally admitted it, her eyes on the floor--barely having known the truth which she spoke, up till now. "It's Adam, partly. That night." Her gaze found his, trying to make herself clear. "They knew we were there, Michael. They were watching us." Her look turned away, the terrors even deeper. "It's like everything we say and do, they'll know."

Ah. This finally made some sense to him, his hand reaching out to stroke over her hair, needing to comfort. While the challenges they would soon face were immense--potentially deadly--she was usually capable of accepting them, as best she could. These anxieties, instead, made much more sense of her mood.

He was touching her gently now, trying to console--his words presenting an interpretation she hadn't thought of before. "They didn't know we had gone to see them." Her gaze looked up, surprised. "That wasn't what started it. Elena's daughter won the contest at least a week before we arrived."

Oh. Her eyes opened a little wider, understanding--remembering. "Madeline set it up before we went." He nodded, his gaze so gentle, but she had to look away--comforted, but still analyzing worriedly. "And the dinner?"

Her look had found his once more, forcing him to nod--not wanting to lie. "She probably knew about the visit later. I doubt it was a secret. But I don't think she knows what it was about." His gaze tried its best to settle her. "She set up that night long before we ever left."

It was difficult, but Nikita let out a long sigh at this interpretation, something like comfort returning once more--her mind finally understanding her recent anxieties. She had just been tired of feeling hunted, of never being able to breathe without fear of being spied on. Their waiting fate she could handle, to a certain extent. It was the inability to even think without five enemies analyzing her mood which had truly upset her now.

He could see this, understood, his hand gentle on her face. Still, her next question caught him off-guard, her thoughts having shifted. "Michael, if something happened to me . . ." He put his fingers over her lips to stop her, but she only kissed them before pulling them away, holding his hand in her own; her eyes made it clear that she wanted an answer. "If we fail, if something happens to me," there was a deep breath, as she seemed to brace herself, "what would you do?"

This wasn't the first time she had thought about this possibility, of course, her fears having gone on for so long, but she needed to be certain of one fact--that he would be safe, could go on without her; her eyes were so tender. That was all she would ask for now.

She was a little surprised by the fierceness of his response, however--the look he gave almost feral in its determination. "I'll protect you, 'Kita." She opened her mouth to try to prod him again, but he shook his head, answering more completely. "The only way I'll fail is by dying."

Oh, Lord. She could see the truth of this, was struck to the heart--but couldn't clearly sort out her emotions. Certainly, she didn't want him hurt, wanted him alive and happy, no matter what might happen to her. Still, his thorough determination to be with her was clear--his love fierce and absolute; her gaze was lost, adoring. But she couldn't put any of it into words.

The conversation was over now, Michael incapable of saying anything more. He just kissed her hand tenderly before letting it go, rising to leave her. There were some things--he was well aware--which they were better off not discussing. And all of the "what ifs?" of their lives--all the ones which couldn't be planned for, at least--were primary among them.

He looked at her tenderly, if still determinedly, before turning away. He had already accomplished what he could today--breaking through her more current fear, getting her to eat something, if not yet enough. Their plans, what they could make of them, were already in place, as well. Discussing the terrors which Madeline would unleash upon them any further than that would only make them worse.

He started to leave her, then, pausing only when he was near the door, his back still to her--needing her to believe. "We'll be together, Nikita, one way or another. We'll live out our lives." He seemed to straighten a little, the fierceness evident in his form, all too aware of what she had planned to tell him. "But don't ask me to live without you." He gazed back to her once, the look searing her soul with its desperate love. "I refuse." Then, he was gone.

She was fortunate that he had shut the door behind himself, her tears starting almost immediately, as much as she tried to hold them back. But they were tears of love. As much as she wanted to convince him to be happy, no matter what--as much as she prayed that he was never forced to harm himself or his soul in his protection of her--it was the absolute devotion he had for her which touched her the most. She didn't want his death, didn't want either of theirs, but he had made one fact clear, yet again. He loved her. And, as long as he had any say in the matter, he would make certain the two of them lived together happily for life.

Extra note: About some of Nikita's thoughts here--it's hard to make vast generalizations about women's sexual knowledge in this time period, since there will always be exceptions to the rule. Certainly, not every woman was a virgin when she married, and not all were entirely ignorant of the mechanics of sex. Still, many women continued to live in a more Victorian age, sexually--and wedding nights could still come as a bit of a shock. It's almost impossible to imagine nowadays, but there you go. And I have no idea why I suddenly decided to go into "teacher-mode" about this. Sorry. :)

I'm also not trying to assert that Michael's attitude at the end here is a positive one; I'm definitely not advocating suicide. If you love someone, you want them to live on happily, even if you're gone. But it's impossible for me to imagine that Michael, in any reality, would have this attitude about losing Nikita.

[End of Part 197]

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Chapter 198 - Part 1 (16 and above)KatherineG.Monday, July 18, 06:54:18am

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