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Subject: Chapter 221 - Part 1 (16 and above)

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Date Posted: Monday, February 13, 07:25:32am
In reply to: Katherine Gilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am

Extra warning: There are some very mild curse words here. I'll rate it 16 and above, just to be safe.

Dreams in the Dark (221/?)
by Katherine Gilbert

The next few days had continued Nikita's hospital stay, the doctors claiming that they needed to be certain that she was strong enough to leave. While Michael suspected that their attitude had been at least marginally influenced by a generous donation from Helmut--the only sort of encouragement which might override the studio system's tremendous pull in the town--he said nothing. For a little while, his wife had been safe from all those people who might try to destroy her. That had been enough, for awhile.

This wasn't to say that there were no other causes for celebration, however--the actress's pregnancy test confirming what had already been suspected. It was a joy which Michael had long dreamed of--but he was beginning to fear it, as well, his soul slowly sinking, as his self-evaluations moved deeper. Perhaps he was simply unworthy of becoming anyone's father.

It was this possibility which haunted the actor, as he finally took his wife home--their ride toward the site of their lingering trauma a silent one. As much as he wanted to be the man who deserved her, who could make her happy, his absolute impotence in the moment of her greatest need was an almost tangible darkness within him, one which had all-too-quickly begun to infiltrate his soul. Not being able to talk to her about his fears these last few days--as he had done his best to help her rest--had only aided its spread. Soon--whatever light was left in him feared--there might be nothing left to support her at all.

They had tried to discuss this terror once already, soon after she had recovered consciousness--but nothing had really been resolved. While Nikita's pleas had been heartfelt, they weren't enough to diminish his feelings of guilt and powerlessness. He had only let the topic go because he didn't wish to disturb her any more, just then. But none of these facts made him any more a man.

It was this quickly-diminishing sense of masculinity which was destroying him the most now, however much some part of him tried to argue himself through. It just played too strongly into his past. The deadly terrors Nikita had so recently faced were at least his third, absolute failure of a woman he had cared for--the second at the hands of Hillinger. That it hadn't turned out worse was due to her cleverness alone--fate perhaps lending a hand. He, however, had been useless. And pathetic weaklings, in his opinion, didn't make for very good fathers or husbands.

It was this fear which made him sigh, as he opened the door for his wife--inviting her back into the place where she had so recently faced such sanity-breaking trauma. Even the fact that he was allowing her to return said nothing for him. Still, he was doing it. Why she demanded it eluded him--but he had given in, nonetheless. The least she deserved was not to be pressured any more, just now.

His eyes scoped out the room, only half-consciously--still terrified of returning visitors, even though he knew that their friends had kept watch--before he stood back to let her in, focusing on her concernedly all the while; she appreciated it, needed all the solicitude he could grant her. And it took her several minutes to make it fully into even their living room, finally seating herself on the couch, gaze still circling worriedly. Even if she felt certain that they had to come back to this place, the terrors lingered, the future tormenting her. The place of such horror would now be the loving home where their children would be raised. That fact alone was enough to cause quite a few, serious misgivings.

Still, she stayed, not changing her mind--needing to face her demons--even if it took awhile for her husband to close the door, joining her on the couch at last. She appreciated his presence--felt his hand settle gently over hers--while her mind wandered on. What had happened here now seemed surreal, like some moment out of one of their films--reality never quite so dramatic. Still, it had certainly happened; her gaze met her partner's. And the two of them would be dealing with the consequences for quite some time to come.

It was this last truth which worried her the most--certain that her husband was holding something back. He had changed over the last few days, seemed depressed and weakened in a way which their recent ordeal didn't wholly explain. Even the news of their child's existence had only brought a dim, loving sort of smile; it frightened her--breaking her heart. She was just very much afraid that their enemies might have won at last.

This fear moved her to speak, needing to get through this--praying there was daylight on the other side. She wasn't really certain of that fact anymore, recent events shaking her faith in life far more deeply than she had words for, but she could hope. In the almost year and a half that they had known each other, they had been through quite a lot together. Perhaps this was simply one more ordeal they would manage to see their way through.

Her eyes were loving, as she tried to move him to talk about it, hoping to get inside him again--her words probing right to the heart of the matter. "Do you not want to be here?" He seemed a little more shocked at her insight than she would have liked, setting off much deeper fears, ones she had to work hard to quell--changing paths. "Do you think it's better, if we move?"

Oh, Lord. She was opening the topic as a partner--could even be led like a traditional wife, at the moment, far too shaken to argue--but he felt incapable of taking the manly role anymore, nodding softly. "It's up to you." He tried to smile. "If you want to stay here, we should."

This passive response only worried her more--some echo of their time on the screen haunting her; her heart seemed to pause, as the truth beat at her, demanding to be heard. She had seen him, had acted with him, in many of his softer moments there--and the man before her wasn't the one she lived with. This was just the more giving side of the Great Samuelle's art, the one which could make any woman's heart flutter; it was all just an act, a pretense. Unlike this screen persona, *her* Michael always had a fire burning in the depths of his eyes, something primitive mixing in with the tenderness; it called to the part of her which had never been truly refined. The inner fear was screaming. But now that fire seemed dimmed, even its embers hard to distinguish; her heart started thumping, a truer terror than even her recent, overwhelming trauma taking hold. What would she do, if she had lost that man for good?

She didn't know why this would be, saw no reason for the change. Still, she had no answers for her fears, couldn't bear to ponder them; she swallowed heavily, forcing herself to speak--hoping that she was imagining things, could draw him out, that it was just the influence of being in this place once more. "And what about you?" The look moved in. "What do *you* want?"

Lord. He was trying to live up to the depth of soul he saw in her gaze--the strong, gentle spirit which had survived so much--but he wasn't worthy of that anymore. As a man, as a husband, he had failed her. His wife had already proven that she was made of far sterner stuff than he.

He gave her another, weak smile, then, patting her hand, as he stood--moving across the room, his back to her. "It doesn't matter." He came to rest near the wall, staring down the hallway which led to their bedroom. "Whatever you want."

Oh--God, no. Her eyes closed, soul wracking. *This* wasn't what she wanted--wasn't even close. He had shut her out again, as he had tried to so very early in their relationship--as he had when he had started training to protect her. But, this time, the closure of his soul seemed more final, more thorough; she felt the tears welling, had to fight them back, aching with her failure. Why, oh why, hadn't she discussed this with him before?

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Chapter 221 - Part 2 (16 and above)KatherineG.Monday, February 13, 07:26:50am

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