|Subject: Chapter 230 - Part 1 (16 and above)
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Date Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 06:57:37am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am
Extra warning: This part contains a very mild curse word. I'll rate it 16 and above, just to be safe.
Dreams in the Dark (230/?)
by Katherine Gilbert
He had just held her that night, had done his best to give her his strength and his comfort--but it was never really enough. He knew it, always did. Any time there was the possibility of being ripped from her for even a second, it happened. No amount of tenderness in the world could start to make up to either of them for their enemies' ruthless cruelty.
There were always these fears, the terrors of separation maddening to anyone who loved, life never as certain in its joy as people would like. But it was the constant press of the attacks they faced, the many opponents who had allied themselves so eagerly against them, which made the terrors all the worse. If their lives were normal--whatever that fictional state might be--they could just worry about the usual anxieties of accident and fate. But to know that they were never to be allowed a single moment's peace . . .
This thought was too much, far too infuriating, his soul raging with it. Michael was back at Adrian's house now, had left Nikita temporarily in Rene's care at the studio--knowing, to his disgust, that he would have to trust her to his friends alone for many months to come. The very thought went against his more protective nature, the one which had been so thoroughly goaded into life by their enemies' constant attacks; something within him clenched, a fist of rage knotting deep inside. But he would have to learn to live in separation from such instincts for quite sometime to come.
It was this truth which angered him almost more than any other, his need--his *right*--to look after and cherish his wife being taken from him in yet another, terrible manner; it didn't make the fury disappear any more. While he dearly wished that Nikita didn't need such constant protection, that the world weren't doing so much to hurt her, he knew in his soul that he had been born for such a reason. His fate was to keep her safe, to make her happy; his eyes closed for half a second, trying to hold in the screaming need to fulfill this role. But, yet again, he would be held back from his only real purpose; the gaze burned, as it met the older actress's. And that fact alone was enough to cause irreversible madness now.
He tried to keep all of these feelings inside, but the spark of them in his gaze, the undeniable tension in his form, showed every emotion far too clearly--his hostess sighing quietly. It was only to be expected, of course, the poor couple's situation never-endingly dire; her head shook once. But that didn't really make any of their situations any better at all.
She moved into the conversation this man had come for, readied herself to explain, knowing there was nothing to be done. Life was what it was, couldn't be changed, after the fact; Jones was still the man he was. There was no way out of this little trap, until the inevitable had been accepted.
Her brief sigh preceded her words, her look calm in the face of her grandson-in-law's repressed fury, cutting straight to the heart of matters. "I was thinking about Canada for your recruitment. You'll need to volunteer, of course, but arrangements can be made for that--both for practical purposes and publicity." She moved the rest of her explanation on, not giving him any time to object. "I've heard rumors that the British will do all their training there soon." Or, at least, all training of the soldiers from their immense Commonwealth. That was all that really mattered here.
Lord. Michael managed to flinch only slightly at the mention of his home country, a thousand memories of mistreatment throbbing somewhere in the back of his head; he had to clench his fist to be able to answer, only letting the fingers ease once he was in control again. He could see her reasoning for it. "It's closer to home, will be easier to get pictures back for publicity." Assuming Madeline even wanted that; he tried to distance his emotions, focusing only on the situation before them. "Do you have a plan for convincing them to accept me?" He was a little old for the typical army recruit.
She nodded, seeing the cold wrath he was trying hard not to express; she couldn't blame him for it in the least. "The British will need every man they can get. You're a Hollywood star and an adopted American. They'll want every bit of good publicity they can get in the States." After all, their intentions were too clear. Just like in the Great War, they would want the USA's participation. Until that happened, the more Americans they could convince to join them publicly, the better.
He could understand this reasoning--in a very distant sense, at least. Still, he did have questions. "Won't anyone wonder why I didn't go to France?" It *was* his, supposed, home country.
"Nikita," she nodded simply. Even seeing him flinch, she didn't pause, needing to recruit him to her plans. "You can claim that you're joining to protect her," which was true, in a demented sort of sense, "but, with a child on the way, you'd look callous if you suddenly ran away to a different continent." The fact that he would appear to be trying to leave the relationship--and the speculation which would fall on his wife as to why--was only too clear.
He could accept this, as much as he hated it--seeing all the publicity angles in a heartbeat. They would play up his sense of hatred for the actions of the Nazis, his need to protect his new family--his wife's supposed homeland--from them; if done cleverly enough, it could be used to goad the U.S. government without alienating his fans. His snort was brief. And that could certainly be done. Madeline was the mistress of press manipulation.
All of these truths were clear, his rational side pushing on--leaving his more bitter emotions to roil somewhere deep within. But the next question, and its possibilities, only enraged him further. "So, I'll be part of a British Army auxiliary?" It was a terrible enough thought, in many ways. Not only was he unlikely to be well-treated, given his family background, but the army itself could bring nightmares. While fortunate enough to never have been part of the Great War, he knew the stories. Trench warfare--orders from the top to rush straight into machine gun fire for no particular end, gas attacks, dying for months of whatever disease or neglect the military could inflict--all the possibilities were infuriating, the waste and cruelty of it well known. Every ex-soldier he had met had talked about the higher command's apparent obliviousness to the welfare of the soldiers, about the better officers who were thrown out for not losing enough men in a single day. The whole point seemed to be the meaningless waste of human life; a shudder ran through him, going very deep. And all of it would mean that he would be leaving Nikita for good.
Lord. Adrian's sigh went deep, seeing his fears--sharing them; it was the reason she had started to maneuver the situation as she had. "I was thinking the RCAF, actually. The public wouldn't be willing to see one of their stars sitting so precariously on the front lines." Or that, at least, was the excuse she was counting on.
The change to his fears made him blink, broken slightly from his terrible thoughts. The Royal Canadian Air Force? His gaze wandered, mind turning. "I can't fly." And he assumed that they would probably see him as far too old to learn.
"There are other jobs in a plane besides the pilot," she assured him. Or, at least, she had been told there certainly would be in this war. His gaze came back, still curious. "And there's maintenance to be done, as well."
The latter possibility would be only too perfect, in some ways, would allow him to remain relatively safe. Still, the problem was far too clear. "That wouldn't satisfy Mr. Jones." His snort was quiet. If only the man were that easy to please.
His hostess saw his thoughts, nodding softly. "Then you'll have to convince them to train you for the air." That would certainly entail enough danger to hopefully keep the businessman satisfied.
This approach was unavoidable, he supposed, Michael sighing quietly, as the facts sank in. But, even with the arrangements the woman had clearly made, it wasn't an easy prospect. First, there was the need to ingratiate himself to his higher-ups in Canada--an almost impossible task, given his heritage. And, even if his commanders came marginally to respect an ageing French movie star as one of their "boys," the other airmen certainly wouldn't. That they might believe him to be truly from the continent wouldn't help, their dislike undiminished--and that was assuming they didn't spot his real accent, which wasn't likely; it was only American audiences who couldn't tell the difference. Being rich, being famous, would only work against him, as well--all such distinctions marking him as "weak." He closed his eyes, sighing. However you looked at it, he was in for a hell of a time; the gaze returned to her. And that was only assuming that they took him at all.
He couldn't get over the lingering horror of the thoughts, knew his life would be terrible. Still, for all his doubts, he didn't question her methods, wasn't certain he wanted to know them. Suffice it to say, Adrian had her contacts. Who and what they were--and how she had acquired them--he was probably far better off being left in ignorance of.
His mind turned, then, looking into the other angles of the pain to come. It was encouraging, at least, that he wouldn't be a soldier--the possibilities of returning slim, if he were. But the prospects weren't exactly bright, as they were. Even with advancing technology--perhaps *because* of advancing technology--planes were all too easily shot down, from the air and the ground; his head shook, all hopes dim. God only knew whether he would ever see his Nikita again.
These various fears were painful, raking along his soul, but there was no escaping anymore. And all of this was assuming that he could win at least enough respect from his fellow airmen not to ensure their more deadly intentions. After all, every part of who he was would eat away at them--his money, his background, his age, his fame. Even his winning of Nikita would fan their jealousy--his wife immensely popular in his home country, even if the theatergoers there apparently only saw his films if she were in them; he couldn't be said to be well-beloved there. But this former fact alone was enough. That this beautiful woman loved him would only anger them more.
It was all of these potentialities which made him fearful, which made him doubt the possibility of coming home alive. Jealous men with guns were dangerous--as Hillinger had certainly already shown--jealous men in war doubly so. And a battle could cover many sins. No one was going to check his corpse to determine from which direction the final bullets had come.
He shuddered slightly with all of these fears, with the sheer horror of what he would have to face--but it was nothing compared to what he was leaving Nikita to bear alone. She was still suffering strongly from the aftereffects of the attack, was still shaken far more deeply than she would allow herself to voice. She was pregnant, too, was carrying his child--the one she had set her heart on raising with him; he had, as well. He shook his head, ridding himself of this fantasy, focusing on his fears. While she was a strong woman, her condition would take much of her focus, nearly all of her vigilance--leaving little for herself. If someone wanted to hurt her, then . . .
No. He couldn't bear to finish out the thought--but the terrors refused to leave. Not only did she have the hideous Madeline and her plots to avoid, but not having her husband beside her would mean that she would be open to every sort of despicable overture from the men around her; she was too beautiful, and much too soulful, not to be. The only thing which had marginally kept the beasts at bay--and then only with a nearly deadly effort--had been his presence. Without that . . .
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