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Subject: Chapter 304 - Part 1

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Date Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 07:26:56am
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 (304/?)
by Katherine Gilbert

It was only 5 p.m., and it had already been a long, ferociously tiring, day. It had started twelve hours ago with reveille, exercises, and, eventually, a few practice flights. Now, as dinnertime approached, he was hoping that he might see his bed within another five hours or so. But even the sleep he hoped for would do nothing to help his pain.

This fact was making itself more evident to Michael by the day, even his constant round of duties barely serving to distract him. In every spare moment, his mind went back to his wife--and nothing the air force could throw at him was proving a distraction for long.

It wasn't that he was being careless, certainly wasn't that he was in any way shirking his duties, but even the most constant work only served to preoccupy a small part of his mind. It was training he had gotten many years ago, in his earliest years in Hollywood, if not long before--the ability to devote himself wholly to his job while still barely existing long-established. Then, he had been diving entirely into his roles, becoming another character; now, it was little different--except that the pain which controlled him seemed all the more echoing.

It wasn't that he had never had any other fears or torments to think about before--his guilt over Elena and the agony of all the factors surrounding Simone's loss especially difficult to get past. But then, at least, he had had his own bed to go home to at night, had been buoyed by the knowledge that he could always quit, so long as he didn't mind the consequences; now, none of that was true. Not only was he an entire ocean away from his allies, but he was also here for good. It would not just be a few angry lawyers he would face, if he decided to give up.

He wasn't the sort of man who generally surrendered, the question having little relevance to him--but the facts of his current life still made everything more difficult. While there was someone at home he wanted to be with now, someone he *could* be with, so long as her father let them be, that wasn't even an option. If he left here, even for a few hours too long, he would not simply be facing the end of his military career. He would be eyeing down a firing squad--with orders to aim at him alone.

This truth always played somewhere in the very back of his mind, his fear of what he might do--were he told that Nikita had been attacked, or that she needed him--never quite dismissed. Desertion during wartime was high treason. The fact that he had only joined up to keep his father-in-law from killing him made little difference now.

The reasons behind any recruit's joining were always meaningless, however--the rules, once you were part of the system, unbreakable. For better or worse, he was the military's now. His beautiful Nikita was only a dream from a thousand lifetimes away.

He feared, more than he could have expressed, that this might always be the truth, sometimes found himself doubting that he had ever been her lover. Sometimes--like he had during his days in training--he wondered whether he had simply dreamed her, whether her love weren't all a sweet fantasy which his subconscious had devised to keep him warm. Especially with the obsessed Elkins as an Example, it truly seemed so. But then he wasn't at all certain what he might do, if that proved to be true.

This question was better left unanswered, his thoughts swerving slightly. He had felt this almost delusional disconnection from the world especially strongly last night; he couldn't help thinking through it, as he made his way back toward the substance which the RAF tried to pass off as food. He and his unit had been allowed out for the first time, if only for a night, all of them making their way to a local pub; Michael had gone only because he needed to keep up the tentative alliances with his mates, certainly had neither anticipated, nor gained, any pleasure. But, surrounded as he had been with dismissive local men--and fawning local women--it had been very difficult to stay focused, his real life slipping ever-further away. It was like he was caught in some drama he had been supposed to enact. Perhaps he had really just gone mad.

He didn't know entirely why he felt this way now, all his days without his beloved searing, unbearable. Still, as he had been surrounded by the smells of smoke and lager, the loud, often unfriendly, sounds of the men's laughter, and the primped, grinning come-ons of the girls, he had nearly been waiting to hear a director's cry of "Cut!" It would only have made sense--especially since real-life women never came close to the perfection of their perfectly-presented counterparts on the screen.

It wasn't that he was particularly unattracted to the British women, wasn't an actual slight on their beauty he intended. It was more the hazy sense of reality which the scene had brought on--the anticipation of walking away only to discover that this set had just two sides overwhelming. Still, more important than this was the fact that he found no real beauty in any woman besides his wife, could only see any attractions they might hold very distantly, at best. Nikita shone--always had--above all other women; the arts of makeup, lights, and costume had nothing to do with it. Every other person on earth, himself included, seemed dim in comparison. He only wondered why she would bother to let him near.

It had been this thought which preyed upon him last night, memories of her all he could focus on. Still, as the women had crowded in--some brassy and aggressive, some only timidly looking for a smile--their would-be boyfriends watching him jealously from a distance, he could only wonder at how he had gotten here, at where his beloved might be. And it was pondering this which had made him wonder whether Nikita had ever existed at all.

He had to wonder whether some part of this was what any man at war felt like--the distance from everything familiar making whatever wife or sweetheart he had left behind seem like she existed in another, often less important, world. It was undoubtedly what allowed so many of them to have affairs, either prolonged ones or those which barely lasted out the night; his heart ached, as he kept up the illusion of control. But his detachment from her didn't have the same effect at all.

He had to wonder whether there were something rather wrong with him, whether he might not finally be going mad. He had always suspected that sheer distance from her would do it, was certainly aware that this was the path he would irrevocably take, should he ever lose her for good. But to have so little contact with her now, with the only person who made up his universe, made everything unclear; he blinked, forcing himself on. He just had no idea of whether he was going to be able to continue for much longer as anything except a rather demented, hollow sort of shell.

It was this fear which plagued him, the memory of the girls' laughter, as he had done his damnedest to make an attempt at the most basic politeness last night, still echoing in his head. While he knew that he could keep up the front he needed, could always do his job, he was more than a little worried about what might happen, should he survive to ever return home. There might well end up to be nothing left of him, when he did.

He couldn't get past this terror, the disorientation only exacerbated by his exile to a new and different country. In some ways, he had seen a bit of the English character in those people who had so reviled him in his own childhood country--but it wasn't really the same. Here, nearly everything was old, far older than he was used to. The pub they had been to last night was around 250 years old, had already been started when his own country--as well as his adopted one--had barely begun to be peopled by anyone except some native tribes. He had only seen such places in their pale, painted imitations on sets before, had wanted to gawk as much as someone like Elkins had. That sense of age, combined with the new, functional ugliness of the military base they occupied, only made everything stranger. It was so very hard to keep his thoughts straight in such a place as this.

It was an odd situation, was so very difficult to get used to. In many ways, Michael was actually a tourist for the very first time since he had run away from home to start a new life in New York. But he wasn't quite allowed to approach this experience in such a way, had too many tasks and duties to fulfill. It wasn't like the RAF was at all pleased by his presence--a movie star the last thing the war effort needed. Patience, while he adjusted to this wholly new life, was in very short supply.

He was more than aware of this fact, was more than capable of faking the focus they expected--his long acting career serving him well. But still the distance from self and reality increased. Like some balloon which had lost its tether, he continued to drift further away. It did him very little good to know that only Nikita could bring him back to reality again.

Given how unlikely he was to hear any word from her, how impossible it was to see or talk to her, such drifting seemed likely to continue. Where it might have led, the absence of mind which it might well have engendered, was a question which was only, fortunately, allayed by the timely arrival of Sikes. But he couldn't have known just how necessary his input was.

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Chatper 304 - Part 2 (end of chapter 304)KatherineG.Wednesday, October 10, 07:29:45am
    Ok Kane scares me. And "Silent Obsession " defines it perfectly. *sigh* (NT)MarySunday, October 14, 03:12:30pm
    • {{{{Mary}}}} -- KatherineG., Thursday, October 18, 07:19:08am

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