|Subject: Chapter 239 - Part 1 (16 and above)
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Date Posted: Monday, April 24, 07:18:25am
In reply to:
's message, "Dreams in the Dark (chapters 221--?)" on Monday, February 13, 07:24:07am
Extra warning: There's maybe one, mild swear word here. I'll rate it 16 and above, just to be safe.
Dreams in the Dark (239/?)
by Katherine Gilbert
The day, once more, was lingering, yet another long journey on the rails underway. With it, Nikita's illness had returned, her struggle to stay healthy long enough to get home not an easy one--but this was now an eternal sort of truth. No matter how hard they tried, life, it seemed, never quite worked out as any of them planned.
It was two days after the arrival of Adrian's telegram, Michael and his wife back on board the *Golden State Express*, as it rumbled its way clumsily along back toward Los Angeles. The journey was never-ending, every mile an extra eternity. Or, at least, that was the way it felt to one of its expectant passengers.
Nikita was taking a deep breath, as she sat in her compartment, trying to let yet another round of illness pass away. It hadn't really been quite as bad this time, the nausea mostly kept in check--but even the threat of it was disquieting enough, the sensation making it impossible to enjoy, or even quietly endure, the journey home--all outer facts meaningless. In reality, the ride was quite smooth, the compartment fairly comfortable, the service wonderful. But to a woman suffering from morning sickness, it was anything but. She might as well have been riding in a box carried by a lopsided camel.
This image might have made her smile, had she felt more well, but that wasn't likely at the moment. True, she was certainly better than she had been on the trip up, Davenport's concoction--whatever it might be--keeping her far more settled than she had hoped. But there was always that slightly unpleasant edge to her health, keeping her from any hope of settling in; her eyes closed, sigh lingering. All she could really hope was that they would make it home soon--because she really didn't want to have to put up with this much longer.
She tried not to think into her discomfort, tried to not to count down the hours they had left until their arrival back home; it was less than 15 now, should be a comfort to her. But it was difficult to forget. The child she carried simply didn't seem to be the traveling type; she sighed, aching to be back. She supposed she would have to get used to having her son near her for life.
This thought wasn't a bad one, would have been quite comforting, had the situations of her life been more settled. But, even if she tried to forget her current illness, looked toward the future, there was small chance of hope. After Adrian's telegram, the date it held, there was going to be little of that anymore.
It was impossible to forget this terrible news, the ever-approaching date casting a pall over her and her husband's every wish. Now, there were only two and a half weeks left until his departure; she had to swallow back heavily, eyes opening--trying not to cry. If it would only keep him with her, she would gladly ride these rails for the rest of her life.
Such a concession would do her no good, however, their future set; it only made all the old pain rumble through her more completely. Ever since they had discovered it, every moment had seemed precious, hunted; her eyes grew teary at the thought. Now, all she could manage was to try not to cling to him, while doing her best to imagine some way to make it through.
Such a miracle seemed impossible, even her husband's temporary absence--going in search of some bland sandwiches for them both, Nikita hoping to choke one down--making her ache for his presence. And the fact that he was off in search of something to aid her, was looking after her all the while, made her want to cry in need of him--the truth unavoidable. She had grown weak in the year and a half she had known him, had come to depend on his presence to get her through; she was well-aware that the reverse was true for him, as well. But that only made the question of how they would survive all the more taunting.
She had yet to come up with any answer for this, had no previous knowledge to build on--all the time before they had met meaningless. Then, she had simply existed because she had no other choice, no knowledge of what it meant to rely on anyone other than herself, no real understanding of how to fully love. Perhaps she had cared for her mother, but that emotion had always been mingled with a great deal of fear--and she hadn't known Adrian long enough before she had met Michael to develop any sort of bond profound enough to challenge this truth, either. Still, with their meeting, their ceaselessly growing emotions, she had discovered everything she had been missing. But that knowledge only made survival seem impossible now.
She was wringing her hands together unconsciously, the grief of their quickly-approaching separation already wracking, the truths unavoidable. Even in the months they had known each other--discovering their love further by the moment--there were no precedents to help. Yes, they had been forced to live apart, even after their secret marriage, had learned every method of deception to hide the more intimate aspects of their love--but they had never encountered anything like what was to come, were able to meet at the studio or in their after-work moments, at least; her heart ached with it, soul mourning, as the question beat at her. They had finally discovered the one person that meant the most. How in God's name would they ever hope to survive without the other now?
This mystery, while impossible to ignore, was insoluble, the ache of it eternal. But even more threatening questions railed with it. If it were simple separation, were just months or years where they were forced to be apart, that would be devastating enough. But how were they supposed to survive, knowing that the other's safety was much less than assured?
This fear, of course, was one which poor Nikita was forced to face the most--her husband's coming part in heaven-only-knew what sort of battles far too terrifying to contemplate, an airman's role in war often not long-lived. But she understood that Michael would have to cope with a similar one--her battles with illness on this tour only bringing to the fore all his terrors as a first-time father, in any real sense. As much as she feared his loss in battle or training, he feared hers in pregnancy or childbirth; her sigh went deep, heart pounding with sorrow. And, either way, their poor child's safety and future would be far less than assured.
It was so hard to ignore this anxiety, all of it building off even greater fears for herself and her beloved. Still, brought into the middle of all their sorrow and terror was their unborn son; her hands clenched. And she feared, more than most first-time parents, for his future, because of it.
It was impossible to forget this worry, her mind--despite her reprimands--always galloping ahead to yet another, potentially-deadly outcome of their enemies' current demands. And one particular one had grown in the last couple of days, now refused to go away. What would happen to the boy, if both his parents died--if even one of them did? Her heart clenched. None of the potential answers were good--and all of them scared her more than she could say.
All of these terrors torched through her mind again, refusing to let her go--her knowledge of her and her husband's personalities unhelpful, just now. After all, if she were to die, could Michael raise their child on his own? Would he even want to? Given all that had happened in the days leading up to Hillinger's attack, it seemed unlikely. And, if the opposite were to happen, could she truly say that she were any different? She feared not. And that fear was one of the many which refused to let her go.
It played her yet again just now, beating her with its terror. But what scared her the most were the very dynamics of her relationship with Michael, was all the ways they worked. Both of them, they had made it clear, had no desire to go on without the other--the pleasure of living wholly dependent on their lover's presence. If only one of them were left, their child surviving, who would care for it? Because she truly feared that there wouldn't be enough of the titular survivor remaining to be able to make the attempt.
This was a terrible possibility, was only one of a thousand fears she faced at the moment--made all the worse by the knowledge of an actual date for her husband's departure; her thoughts circled around it, spinning until she felt nearly dizzy. Before had been bad enough, the threat of his leaving a constant. But now . . .
She had to close her eyes, biting her lower lip, as she held back the pain of the truth, so easily overwhelmed. She felt as though she were living under a death sentence, were only waiting for the second hand to reach midnight; her fingertips rubbed lightly over her face, trying--for the sheer appearance of the thing--not to ruin her makeup. But it was impossible to truly care about anything but her husband's presence anymore.
It was this she was focusing on yet again, her need for him growing exponentially with the recent news; her sigh lingered painfully. It didn't make the situation any better to remember that the telegram had stopped them from making love the other night--their intimacy held back every day in the past week or so from either her illness or their fears; the sorrow only deepened. It just wasn't right that they couldn't at least spend what little time they had left just reveling in each other; her heart ached, as her gaze found the other side of the compartment. But nothing in their lives was fair anymore.
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