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Subject: Chatper 293 - Part 1

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Date Posted: Monday, July 02, 07:26:58am
In reply to: KatherineG. 's message, "Dreams in the Dark - continues with chapter 289 >" on Monday, June 18, 06:55:17am

Dreams in the Dark (293/?)
by Katherine Gilbert

It turned out to be a lingering sort of day--and not in the pleasant way they would have wished, the world making its demands. Once they finally forced themselves to abandon their bed, making themselves presentable once more, they took in joint breaths. And then they went out to greet their friends and allies.

It wasn't that this was an unpleasant task--those who had so long aided them usually more than welcome company. But their constant awareness of the flashing brevity of Michael's homecoming weighed heavily on both the man and his wife. Even a moment out of each other's arms seemed a rude sort of intrusion.

They walked down the hall together, hand in hand--Michael having arranged the time of this meeting the day before. To anyone who might hear of it, it would seem like a brief, welcoming party. Only those who were more aware of their usual, dire situations would realize the truth.

Madeline, Jones, and many others were among these people, of course, but that fact couldn't be helped. Their basic movements were impossible to camouflage entirely. All they could do was hope that any plans they might make here would remain among friends.

They were moving to meet these kind people now, the ones who had aided them so selflessly for so long. Still, as they walked down the hall together, the actor's head turned--noticing for the first time what had once been an empty guest room. Now, through the door which Annie must have left open--on purpose or not--he saw what it had been transformed into; the breath dammed in his lungs, as he felt his heart slamming suddenly into full speed, the awe flooding him. Now, it was a nursery.

He blinked once, surprised by the sudden urge to cry--managing to fight it off through long experience. But his lack of most outer reaction was in no way indicative of the fierce depths of his emotions. Nothing he could have said could have begun to express those.

He just stood there for several, long seconds, holding his wife's hand tightly--more moved than he could ever remember being. When she seemed to notice his shock, she smiled slightly, leaning against his arm to whisper. "Do you like it?" Neither of them were foolish enough to think that she meant the decorations alone.

It took him several long moments to be able to answer her--some internal earthquake shaking his entire world view into almost unrecognizable order. When he finally did, there was a long, shaky breath--the truth almost unbearable. "Yes." It was the first time he had fully allowed himself to dream.

They were only together there a few seconds, their friends just down the hall, watching with only half-knowledge of what the couple must feel--but, for Michael, the entire earth had changed. He turned to his wife a moment later, his hand so tender on her cheek, the look in his eyes speaking of nothing but the most absolutely devoted love. When his whisper emerged again, it was fierce--his thumb tracing the corner of her mouth, nothing within him belonging to himself alone anymore. "I'll protect you, Nikita." His head shook slightly, gaze so very lost. "No matter what it takes, I'll look after you both." And, for the very first time, he meant it as the absolute truth.

It wasn't that he had ever intended to allow any harm to come to his wife; that had never been an option--not while he was living, at least. But now, the process which had started yesterday upon seeing her altered form, this tender body which carried their child within it, had come to its inevitable destination. For the very first time, his promises were real. He would also allow nothing bad to ever happen to his child.

It was then that Michael became a father in the truer senses of the word--in that moment with all their friends watching them from down the hall. But none of these visitors were quite as real to him. What mattered was Nikita, their child, and himself--in that order. While he was still capable of any conscious will, he would never allow either of them to be harmed.

It was this vow which held his soul, as he moved with her toward their friends--but he could barely focus on the good people who had come to see them. All that mattered was that he see this promise through. No danger he might ever have to endure seemed even mildly important in comparison.

All of this was a first for the man--the only time this part of his promise to her had been entirely truthful. While he had never had any intention of harming his unborn son or daughter, would have been saddened had anything happened to his offspring, his concern had been almost solely for his wife's well-being. Because it would have upset her, because he knew she would have mourned, he had looked out for the child. But now, his life had changed. Now, he was every bit as invested in their child's welfare as was she.

This truth had long existed--but it wasn't caused by any deeper faults in the man. Even with Elena, he was not one to simply impregnate and leave--without any thoughts of his offspring's future. He had been entirely ready to marry that woman--as little pleasure as such a match would have given either of them--had been prepared to sacrifice his happiness to see that the child was safe. But Adam, as fine a man as he was growing into, had been a simple duty for him--or would have been, had Chuck not stepped in, had Elena not chosen the other man resoundingly. There had been no part of him which had entirely allowed the boy into his soul.

This truth had existed for sometime, had always seemed likely to remain. As much as he half-hated himself for the notion, he had always known that the same was true with the child Simone had never borne; it was a small part of the reason why the woman had refused to marry him--never having any desire to be a burden, no matter how much she was loved. Never before now had he truly adored a woman enough to fully cherish the child they would create together. Never before had he felt anything like the devotion he did for his one chosen wife.

They were greeting their friends, thanking them all, as these changes were born within him--making everything new. Still, he knew that it was also this intoxicated love which had caused his previous attitude toward their future child. When he had first heard of it--had begun to guess that it might be true--he hadn't been able to believe, the hope much too wonderful. It had been like some sort of game they were playing--almost like two 6-year-olds pretending that they were married and raising children together, playing house. Even after he had been allowed to see her once more late last night, he had only partly accepted that this was real--had mostly reacted to the visceral possessiveness such knowledge had brought to him, making him want to prove to the world forever that she was his. But, somehow, seeing that one, small change in the design of their home made all of it far more real; he had the tamp down the urge to drag his wife away from prying eyes, to lock themselves in their bedroom and hold her tightly--until the RCAF came and physically dragged him back to his supposed duty. No longer could he pretend that he would feel little or nothing, if their child were to die. He was fully invested at last.

This process hadn't been a particularly conscious one; he had never had any desire to shut the love out of himself. Still, the unwanted situations with Elena and Simone--as much as he had respected the former and loved the latter--had long left him scarred. Truly giving himself to the future of his infant's life was a rather terrifying matter for him now.

This fact was common for most parents, of both sexes, of course--a first child often more anxiety than joy. But the entire, insane situation they were in--the many, steadfast enemies they faced, the ones who seemed more at home on a hack screenwriter's page than out in the actual world--had made those feelings a bit too much for him to bear. Combined with his previous, sad experience, it had taken him around six months to finally accept that he himself wished to have a son.

Such thoughts cluttered his brain--making it rather difficult to concentrate on anything else--even as he supposedly talked with his friends. And the fact that he now thought of little Adrian as a boy was in no way a reflection of any adverse reaction he might have, were it to be otherwise. If anything, he dreamed even more of a little girl--one who would match all her mother's wit, brains, and beauty--but with only one, lovely difference. This one could be raised with love. In that small way, he could redeem a little of his lover's pain.

This was his truer desire, a boy not as perfect a symbol for him. Besides, he had already had one son--however unintentionally. What he really wanted was as many tiny copies of his wife as possible.

He was smiling more genuinely than usual with these dreams, couldn't hope to get past them. But now, the hope of such a blessing--or perhaps even of the small version of himself which his wife so seemed to wish for--was almost too real, the sense of love and fear it gave him a much-honed knife slicing through his heart. It was almost too cruel to ask him to want something this much--especially when this beautiful wish seemed so constantly and thoroughly endangered.

It was partly for this reason that all of his friends were gathered here--each of them prepared to help as best they could. The entirety of Helmut's unusual household, Angie and her partner's family, and the dignified Adrian had all come--the latter more stately than the rest, propped erectly on an armchair, as the others stood and chatted. But today was the very first time that Michael fully realized the stakes. And that knowledge alone was proving a terror like no other.

He could feel his soul nearly freezing over now, so uncertain of the future. Before, while he had certainly hoped for both Nikita and their child's welfare, he had known his choice between them without question--had long made it clear to his friends. If ever there had to be a decision, Nikita was the one to be saved. But now, even if that choice was still the only one, it didn't seem half so simple. He was finally starting to understand just how much he might have to give up.

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Chapter 293 - Part 2 (end of chapter 293)KatherineG.Monday, July 02, 07:28:32am

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