|Subject: Chapter 234 - Part 2 (16 and above)
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Date Posted: Wednesday, April 05, 09:45:28am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am
Extra warning: There are a few, mild bad words here; I'm rating it 16 and above, just to be safe. Also, I've tried to make this part the least disgusting I can, since a portion of what's happening is nothing any of us need to have detailed in any depth. Still, it's impossible not to give a few allusions to it. Sorry!
Dreams in the Dark (234/?)
by Katherine Gilbert
The next day was the same, yet terribly different--Michael's silent prediction taking on a hideous life. While they had been able to fight off his poor wife's illness for 24 hours, her second day of continuous train travel simply proved too much--all the nausea she had delayed catching up with her at last. It was almost as terrible for him as for her. But it would be tomorrow morning before they would finally arrive in Chicago; his sigh went deep, as he waited for her to emerge. There was just so much pain for her to go through before then.
He was sitting on their shared bunk, praying for her now, able to think of nothing else. He hadn't even allowed Joseph to put up the beds, wanting his wife to be able to lie down whenever possible. The porter had been kept busy, instead, bringing her either ginger ale or seltzer water, always with either a lime or lemon she could suck--but little was aiding her just now. And, to Michael's lingering horror, there was little he could really do to help.
It was this sense of weakness which was killing him, his fury to look after her maddening. She wouldn't even allow him to be with her, as she was sick--saw no point in it--had tried her damnedest to get him to go eat without her; he had, only when he thought of some sort of food he could bring back which might help. Now, with only a few bites of a sandwich that he had had himself that day, he would do his best to tempt her into trying a piece of a banana whenever she seemed capable of stomaching it, hoping it might help settle her again. But, beyond such attentions, there was nothing he was capable of. And it was the frailty and impotence of such a position which almost grated away at him the most.
He heard the water running in the bathroom, knew what it meant--his poor wife, even in her illness, trying to shield him from hearing any of her suffering. He closed his eyes, his head in his hands--soul raging. If only he could help her--if only Madeline hadn't forced the two of them on this damned trip along with Shears--then she probably wouldn't be in this situation, not to such an extent, at least. His fists clenched, hating the tutor all the more--hating the future. If only there were some way he could even hope to help his wife now.
There was a polite knock on the door, distracting Michael from the torment he shared with his beloved, and he did his best to respond, allowing the person in. It was probably Joseph again. He had been by several times already, even when he hadn't been called; the older man's concern for Nikita--for any pregnant woman, Michael suspected--was really quite touching. He snorted slightly. But the substantial tip he had given him at the beginning of the trip probably hadn't hurt matters, either.
This was an unkind thought--probably an untrue one, in this case--and Michael was sorry for it the moment it entered his head, hating the disgusting sort of stereotype his general pessimism about humanity had led him to. He should damn well know not to do that--certainly did--especially with his own background, with the prejudice he would soon be facing again; his sigh was deep, as he finally gazed up. But his look turned from politeness to anger. It definitely wasn't Joseph who had come this time.
Andrew Shears stood in the doorway, wearing a sheepish expression which endeared the tortured man to him no further; Michael sat up, the fist which clenched instinctively lying back on the bed behind him. "Can I come in?" the newcomer wondered, and the actor had to take a very deep breath, knowing the truth. He had very little patience to go around right now.
He stared at the man for several, long moments, forcing him to wait, before he finally nodded once. With the water running in the bathroom, Nikita couldn't hear what they would say; something burned in the back of his eyes. And there were definitely many things which needed to be spoken here.
Andrew, fortunately, had closed the door, took a seat across the room--which, admittedly, was never very far away, in a train compartment--his look concerned. "How is she?" It was a stupid question, really--both the way she had looked last night and the fact that she had yet to appear today telling him everything he might need to know. Still, he was worried for her. An endless train ride in her condition was anything but a treat.
There was part of the woman's husband which fully understood--even appreciated--the man's concern. But that wasn't the part which currently glowed from the depths of his eyes. "Was Zalman bothering you?" The whisper was nearly a growl. There was no way he was cutting this man any slack anymore.
That sheepish look continued, his visitor's shoulders rising briefly. "Haven't seen him," he responded. And it was the truth. Where the idiot man could be was a mystery. But Andrew had more than enough sense not to mourn the loss.
If he thought he had dodged any bullets, he was wrong, Michael's gaze cutting--his words even more so, stabbing straight to the heart of his dislike of the newcomer, changing topics radically. "You're in love with her." The younger man's gaze dropped, making his interrogator nearly growl at the tacit consent. "You can't have her. She's mine."
"I know." The statement was simple, Shears' look strong and quiet. This was a confrontation which had been brewing for awhile, would be impossible to run from anymore. And maybe he shouldn't, anyway. As the couple's intended ally--as Mrs. Worth had made clear was his role--he needed at least a little of this man's trust. But that wasn't going to come, unless they got certain issues out into the open at last.
"I'm no threat to you," he assured the man--and it was clearly the truth. Whether it was his own inability to win someone like Kitty or the woman's own, almost feral, devotion to her husband in return, there was absolutely no doubt in Andrew's mind that he would never be anything like her choice.
It took a deep breath to be able to go on, the intruder's honesty undermining a bit of the tortured man's rage. Still, he cut straight to the point. "Adrian told me that you're a homosexual." The gaze became even more fierce. "I don't believe that for an instant."
Lord. This day really was a waste; Andrew's head dropped, wishing he didn't have to discuss it. Still, clearly, he did--certain things needing to be aired; it took him a second to return his gaze to the man. If only it were easier to get it all out.
He could see the older actor's real accusation here, knew that Michael thought that this new arrival had made up this strange story to allow him to get closer to the man's wife. Still, that was far from the truth. "I'm . . ." He laughed slightly. "I don't know what to call it." His eyes fell, shoulders shrugging. "I like the quiet, shy, intellectual types." His gaze found his opponent's again. "It's never much mattered to me which sex they were."
Nikita's husband was utterly uncertain how to feel at this announcement: surprised, victorious at the truth of his suppositions, or furious at the possibilities it left open. Whichever it might be, it was an odd moment. For most of the people he had known, there was a definite proclivity one way or the other. Helmut and Rene might have dated or married women but only as a front for the world, a shield against the truth of who they really were. Terry came to mind, as well--but he suspected that her earlier years with men, including their own, quite brief, fling, was simply the woman's method of discovering her own, real choices. There were others, too--such as Bauer or Andrea--but they barely counted. For each of them, desire--if it could be called that--consisted not so much of sex but conquest and rape, the gender of the target rather meaningless; his gaze moved in deeper to his visitor. To discover someone whose inclinations might truly move in either direction out of something other than power was a strange new twist, indeed.
He left all of this unsaid, knew better than to judge anyone by such tendencies by this point in his life. If he had stayed that stupid--if he ever had been, it was hard to remember now--he never would have had a friend as devoted as Rene; his sigh lingered. And that would have been a very great loss to him, indeed.
His look had traveled, but it returned to the other actor, as Michael's mind revolved around the man's words; his gaze narrowed, as he applied the information to Nikita--the rage returning, no longer certain of anything he was saying through it. "She's not that quiet or shy." She was certainly intellectual.
Lord help him; Andrew laughed. "No one is when you get to know them." The smile grew. "That's the joy of the quiet type."
This analysis allowed Michael a greater insight into the man's mind--but it only infuriated him further; he stood up, starting to menace him unconsciously, somewhat like a tiger threatening to defend his rights to his mate. "If you think you'll ever have Nikita . . ."
Both his visitor's hands were up in an instant, his look honest, conceding, but not panicked. "I already told you what you clearly know. I'm not a threat to you--to either of you. You're just angry, because I'll be with her, when you won't." Michael paused before him, probably even more enraged by this honest assessment, leaving his guest to sigh. "If you want to hit me, fine. But do it somewhere it won't be visible, or you'll play into the studio's plans far more than either of us wants."
It was the newcomer's absolute honesty and rationality which probably angered the older actor the most--but he managed to keep himself in line, sitting again on the bed, before Shears went slowly on, his gaze far more sympathetic. "Look, I know this must be Hell for you." His hand raised in concession again. "And I'm not claiming that I have any idea what it's like. She's a beautiful, incredible woman who loves you and who's soon going to have your child." He shook his head. "Meanwhile, you'll . . ."
Michael interrupted him, his head shaking in response. "I'll be somewhere else, when she needs me the most." Most of the fury had fled, leaving only the fears and sadness behind. Once a long sigh had passed, his look returned to the man, sharing his deeper concern. "Can you protect her, if she needs it? Are you willing to do anything you have to to keep her safe?"
This was a tall order--more than someone who was still, essentially, a stranger could really fulfill. He sighed quietly, wishing he could offer more. "I'll do what I can," he nodded. "And I'll look for someone else to protect her, if I need more help." Adrian had already given him hints of whom he could trust. Now, all he would need to do would be to find them.
This wasn't much of a consolation to the desolate man, but it would have to do. He only added one more, quiet, fact, standing, as the water turned off in the other room. "This child is mine, Andrew." He walked toward the bathroom door with his wife's robe in his hands. "Comfort her all you can but never forget that."
Their visitor watched the man nervously--understanding his point. Although most of the man's fears were entirely altruistic and caring, there was one, a quite selfish one, which was clearly eating away at his soul. While he would be away, heaven only knew where in the world, another man would be with his wife--would see her body changing, as she carried his child. It was an enraging sort of thought. More than anything, Michael simply didn't want her to share the more tender parts of her experience with anyone but him.
Shears could understand that, sympathized with the actor's fears, although he had never had a child of his own. But he could easily imagine just how desperate a man who adored a woman like Kitty could become, if he were torn away from her at such a time; he sighed, his gaze on the floor--as Michael informed his wife of their guest's presence, helped her put on the robe to cover herself. Whatever it was which was forcing the actor to leave her, it had to be life-threatening, indeed.
He still didn't understand the motives of Kitty's husband, why anyone would leave this woman--especially at a time such as this--but he could tell that it was deadly serious enough. Only something that dangerous could ever force this man, even temporarily, away.
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