|Subject: Chapter 221 - Part 2 (16 and above)
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Date Posted: Monday, February 13, 07:26:50am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am
She could see what was happening now--some part of it, at least--and knew very well when it had begun. And yet, over the past few days, she had allowed him to just sit with her, had let them discuss nothing except the brief conversation which had led them back to this place--too torn from her recent, dire experiences to be able to face what had changed. But her denial had only led her here; her teary gaze found his back. And she seemed to feel in her soul that it was already far too late.
She didn't want to think about this, didn't ever want to face it, but it was beyond changing now. Wherever this led, they had to talk about it--even if it meant that both their lives were over.
There was a very deep breath, as she tried to start--beginning with the matter she so feared all of this stemmed from; her gaze focused on her hand, her thumb tracing absently over the lines on her palm. "Do you not want it, Michael?" Her sigh lingered. "Would you rather I had our child alone?"
She saw him flinch in her peripheral vision, was certain that she had discovered the truth; her thumbnail pressed more deeply into her hand, as she continued--remembering the realities of their lives. It wasn't like a single mother would be well thought of. "I could have an abortion, if you want." Her sigh was defeated, her eyes blank. The very thought was enough to destroy her, the child they had created *theirs*, an expression of their love; a howling sort of sorrow filled her heart. But if that love were over . . .
She closed her eyes, forcing down the tears; it was too terrible to accept--but there might be no way out. She tried to make it easy for him, wanting to have it over quickly; extra tears would only make it worse. "No one would be surprised at a 'miscarriage,' after my collapse."
There was no way to describe the effect of her words, her voice so calm, so empty--so utterly unlike Nikita. Still, it was only his self-despair which heard her, certain that it was his recent, abject failure which had led her to change her mind; he forced himself to speak, his voice a whisper, only shaking slightly. "If that's what you want." He couldn't even bear to say any of the things *he* wanted.
This wasn't the right response--if there even was one, anymore; her eyes closed more tightly, the few tears which escaped left orphaned, somewhere on her cheeks. It took her a moment to speak, self-control difficult, at best--her heart dying, uncertain how to begin to accept this. She had always imagined that, if their relationship ever ended, it would be because their passion had burned each other through; the ache deepened. She had never imagined that they would both simply wither.
She tried to avoid it, but there was a bit of bitterness in her tone--although it wasn't truly directed at him. "Would it matter what I want?" She could only wish that some part of him might still care.
"Yes." His response almost seemed to answer her prayer, winning her eyes--but it too quickly continued, his breath lingering. "But I don't know whether I can give it to you."
Oh. Her head dropped, the floor a little blurred through the tears--understanding dawning. Maybe it wasn't so much that he just didn't want her but that she now represented a life he didn't wish for. A baby, after all, was great in theory--was supposedly the bond which kept a couple happy, which proved both a man and a woman's true worth--but a screeching child, filthy diapers, and all-day, all-year, all-life responsibility for another person were another matter in reality. It wasn't like she hadn't seen it before. A couple who were all dewy-eyed about the prospect of their first baby could easily despise each other a month after the child's birth. There was no time for privacy, for intimacy--their world a sudden threesome, instead of a couple. And neither member of the couple truly mattered much, either--the baby's concerns always, always first; her sigh went deep. Even if she wanted to face it all--with him at her side--he had clearly rethought matters; she almost laughed, as much as her soul was dying. It was probably for the best that he had done so before the birth.
All of this made sense of him now, as much as it broke her heart. The one other woman who had had his child he hadn't wished to stay with, either--and poor Simone had never had a chance to get that far. She had always believed that it was simply because he hadn't been in love with Elena, that he had been too young--but she supposed that was childish thinking. Every man she had ever known--well, every one who wasn't like Helmut and Rene, anyway--had been the same. They were all-too-happy to breed children but none-too-happy to look after them. Her sigh shivered out. If only she had realized that a couple of months ago.
Her gaze was back on her palm now, her thumbnail digging over one of its lines--almost tearing the skin. But she saw and felt none of that, focusing on the details before them. "I understand." It took her a second to fight back the angry tears--but it was still more fate that she was furious with than him. "Do you want to stay together after I do it, or is this the excuse we use?"
It was impossible to hear any of this sanely, was impossible to just move on--everything in him dying. She was being so matter-of-fact, sounded like a different person; something in him chilled, the terror of the thought freezing the inner darkness, suddenly stopping its advance. She sounded like Madeline. He closed his eyes, as the revelation saturated his soul like a poison. Oh. Dear. Christ.
He was physically holding onto the corner of the wall, was trying to hold himself up--and part of him finally saw what he was doing to her; he tried to let the knowledge in, tried to be an adult. He was closing her off, as well as himself, was destroying what made her unique--what made him love her; there was a deep breath, his gaze burning down the hallway toward their room--drawing in strength with the truth. And, if he had ever been anything like a man, he couldn't let her go like this.
He turned to her at last, saw the emptiness he was breeding in every line of her form--and felt all the inner fires which always burned in him returning, glowing in his eyes. Maybe, too, this was what he needed to know. It wasn't his failure to kill during the attack which would emasculate him--wasn't even that which could decide his manhood--but his actions right now. Any fool, even the most abusive, sadistic one, could kill for his woman. What took real strength and courage was to love her enough to give her a reason to live.
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