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Subject: Chapter 221 - Part 3 (16 and above) (end of chapter 221)

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Date Posted: Monday, February 13, 07:28:32am
In reply to: Katherine Gilbert 's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am

He returned to her slowly in the next moment, willfully placing his previous, destructive mistakes behind him, trying to act on this new knowledge. He could only hate himself for the damage he had done to her in just a few moments, their situation so evident. Still, real love was fragile like that--as delicate as it was strong. The cold, unfeeling word, the turned back, could cause a thousand, possibly irreparable, cracks in its exquisite surface; his sigh was soft, footsteps approaching. It was up to him alone to make certain that it wasn't allowed to shatter for good.

She felt his presence beside her, felt something which resembled the bond they had always shared, but couldn't bear to look at him. He had already damaged her--not through any real fault of his own, simply through the misfortune of who they were; her breath was quiet. It wouldn't do any real good to look in his eyes anymore.

He stood beside her, watching her close in--his own heart aching at what he had so easily, so foolishly, done. He sat down at last, trying to explain. "I'm sorry. I want our child, want to raise it together." His face wrinkled, struggling for words. "It's just that . . ."

He didn't finish the thought, wasn't certain where to begin--and she, unfortunately, picked up where he had left, her voice flat. "You don't want me."

Christ. Her words made him laugh, if only in sorrow, his eyes trailing into the distance. "I want you more than . . ."

Again, there was no metaphor quite worthy of it, his head shaking, as his gaze dropped--knowing she didn't understand; it took him a second to begin again, trying another path. "I've just been feeling . . ."

"Nothing for me?" It was the only explanation she could see, her eyes finally on him--ready to face the inevitable--even if part of her wished he weren't being so gentle about it. Before, there had always been real emotion in him for her. Even if some part of her almost felt it again, the emptiness of a moment before seemed to undermine every lesson of their love. All she could really hope for was that he would get this over with. It was far better to die quickly than at length.

He looked at her at last, the gaze echoing through each of them, as he finally finished his thought. "Useless." He watched her a second before going on, shaking his head. "I don't know whether it's because I had built myself up to face them or whether there was some sort of primal motive which told me that I was only worthwhile if I protected you with fangs bared." There was a laugh, if a humorless one, his gaze drifting. "I just know that I've been feeling as though I've failed you, too."

She was looking at him now--really looking at him--finally listening to something other than the fears he had given. "Too?" she wondered. As much as she hated his reasoning, the rest of his concerns she might come to somewhat understand.

Lord. He thought she knew him that well by now, but he met her eyes, supposing he had frightened her too much to expect such comprehension. "Elena, Simone . . ." His sigh went deep, the look trailing away. "My sister, as well. I left her, when I went to New York, when I couldn't bear to stay there any longer." There was almost a shrug. "I think I've just been fearing that there's no woman I can ever truly protect."

This did make sense to her now, as wounded as she still was by his words, his coldness. She took his hand slowly, tentatively--even as she felt some inner sense of life just starting to reawaken at its warmth. But that still didn't tell her where they were left. "And me?"

Lord. His gaze moved deep, his hand enfolding her own, hoping he could make her see. "I want to be worthy of you, 'Kita. I want to feel like I have some sort of right to be with you."

She had never understood this fear of his, her look ironic. "My permission isn't enough?"

There was a laugh, as his head dropped, shaking slightly--but the smile soon passed, as his thoughts turned, eyes haunted. "You've given me so much--much more than I've given in return." The look seemed even more tormented. "And you've suffered so much for me." And they weren't the sort of trials he could ever make up for in full.

She could see a little of his reasoning, even if she couldn't agree with it--needing to show him the foolishness of his fears. "And you think Madeline wouldn't have plotted against me without you? Hillinger wouldn't have . . ."

It was as she said it that those final, gruesome few moments of the gunman's life flashed through her internal view. It was far too much. She shivered slightly, swallowing heavily, as her gaze seemed caught in some distant, terrible scene. It brought his attention back to her in an instant, his hand on her face--worried for her yet again, angry at himself. Damn it. He had forgotten her condition, all she had suffered--the child she carried--had been too wrapped up in himself and his own selfish concerns. He put away the self-rage this truth caused in a heartbeat, however, focusing more properly again. It was Nikita's happiness he had to remember. If he could just give her that, his own life would be worth living, as well.

He needed to comfort her, then, as much as he was able to, leaning in, almost kissing her forehead--fortunately stopping himself at the last moment, as a detail from their past came back. She had told him once how much she hated that move, of the reminders of yet another would-be attacker from her past such a display could bring back; he lifted her chin instead, kissing her lips. When she didn't respond, still lost in her suffocating terrors, he kissed her more solidly. Whatever it took, he was damn well going to win her back from the scars of the fools who had hurt her.

She felt him this time--the connection which always bound them reaching into her darkness--came back to herself with a slight gasp, gaze refocusing on him, a thousand emotions at war. It was only a moment later that, feeling like a terrible weakling, she started to cry. It only made her situation worse to know that it was simply the first crack in the dam.

He had both his hands on her face now, was gazing into her with strong, concerned eyes, and it took her a second to get the words out through her tears. "You still love me, don't you, Michael?" She had to bite her trembling lip, unsuccessful in holding any of the torment back. "You don't want . . .?"

She couldn't get out the rest of it, the very thought of giving up the child she had believed that both of them wanted far too terrible to bear. But his look only hardened, all the previous, fierce strength of the man she loved having returned--his hands tender on her face. "I want you *and* our child, Nikita. I want to be with you for the rest of my life." She sniveled a little--hating herself for her weakness--as his thumbs stroked over her cheeks, his look softening, so gentle. "You'll get through this, 'Kita. *We'll* get through it." His head shook, gaze entirely her own. "There's nothing which can make me leave you anymore."

Oh. She could see the truth of his words--but his earlier actions still hurt deeply; she bit her lip again, wishing to God that she were more in control of herself. She had *never* been such a pathetic crybaby before--and she had certainly been given more than enough motivation. Still . . . "You're certain?"

"I love you," he stated simply--everything in him dismissing her fears. When she seemed cautious, he laughed slightly--trying to explain. "Just slap me, if I start being an idiot again."

The, hopefully unnecessary, invitation actually brought a small laugh from her, loving him so. But it only dissolved into tears, as the memories of all she had been through--all she had been forced to witness--came back to her, flooding through her soul, threatening to drown her; he drew her close, hand both tender and devoted on the back of her head. Her forehead rested against his neck, as he comforted her softly. "I won't leave." He kissed her temple, placing the knowledge there. "We'll raise our child as one."

This was the reassurance she needed, was the anchor which might keep her from drowning in the storm of her memories. She closed her eyes, feeling his arms hold her close--finally knowing the truth, forcing herself to remember. They *were* together--the best efforts of all their enemies gone awry. And the only thing which could keep them apart anymore was their own foolish fears.

He understood this fact as well, held her tightly--soul now reborn to help her through. And he finally understood the truth. This was what a real man--a real human being--did. He was there to comfort and support the one he loved, had the strength to build a future they determined together--the outside world and its idiot expectations be damned. And he would be that for her, all his old vitality returning. He had been given a precious gift, after all. Nikita was his; his arms wrapped more tightly around her, comforting her through her tears. And not even Hell itself would tear them apart anymore.

[End of Part 221]

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Chapter 222 - Part 1 (16 and above)KatherineG.Wednesday, February 15, 06:57:54am

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