Course of True Love, The

by ML

February 20, 2004
Title: The Course of True Love
Author: ML
distribution: yes if you have before; if not, please drop me a line. Thanks.
spoilers: that would be telling
disclaimer: Not mine. Not now, not ever. Sigh.

The Course of True Love
by ML

The room was dark, but the moonlight streaming through the windows was bright enough to help him find his way. He glanced outside. Nothing stirred.

He sat down beside her. With no one to see him, he dropped his usually impassive expression. He gazed at her with a look approaching tenderness. He almost reached out to touch her, but caught himself just in time. His hands, usually otherwise occupied, rested uneasily on his knees.

He spoke softly, intimately, as though telling a bedtime story. "When I spoke to you of love, I could see in your eyes that you believe I know nothing of the subject. Yet in your heart you know what I said to you is the truth."

There was no response from the woman on the bed. He didn't expect one.

"I know people view me as heartless," he continued, "but I have feelings, as I've tried to show you. Compassion is not as foreign to me as you think. I have made sacrifices. I have set aside my own wishes for a greater cause. I know you aren't a stranger to this impulse. You've spent the past several years doing the same thing, whether you recognize it or not.

"We are kindred spirits, you and I. You see, I too have loved very deeply in my life. It was my misfortune that I loved unwisely.

"I could have compartmentalized my feelings, and to a certain extent, I did. I could see that my personal desires were counter to the cause I espoused, and so I sacrificed my personal interest to the greater good. You're no stranger to this impulse yourself."

He paused, thinking backward to a time when perhaps another path had still been open to him. He'd always been a pragmatist, though he had dreams and wishes like any other man. But unlike most other men, he'd always seen the big picture. And he'd never let petty details get in his way.

"When I realized I couldn't have the woman of my dreams, I settled. I found myself a suitable helpmeet, and I convinced myself that it was for the best."

There had been no comparison, of course. There was a vast difference between the well-educated, gently reared patrician he'd aspired to and the woman he'd ended up with -- raucous, gullible, and, in the end, not suitable at all.

"Sadly, my second choice was all too aware of her place in my life and my affections. Even though I assured her she was essential to me, to my work, it wasn't enough for her. She was in a position to harm me and I couldn't take that risk. I saw to it that her credibility suffered. It was not a difficult task. To the world at large, I was the wronged party, the long-suffering one. When she became too much of a liability, I took care of that too. I sent her someplace where she couldn't interfere.

"But my one true love, the one I sacrificed my family for, betrayed me. She betrayed me with her own husband. I rewarded her betrayal, of course -- took the one thing she valued above all others -- though my satisfaction in this was secondary to the good of the project. Her pain was merely a side-benefit to an action that was for the greater good."

Yes, he'd made her suffer, taking her child and thereby ending the marriage he'd envied from the start. And her husband -- the drunken fool -- took the blame on himself. If he'd ever suspected differently, he'd never told a soul -- not until the day he died.

She'd kept her own counsel, too. He never attempted to contact her again after that one disastrous encounter.

"Yet I've been kinder to her that she was to me over the years. And now she too is gone."

He was practically the last of his kind. But it didn't pay to be sentimental. If he was the last, then it was all up to him to make sure that the Project continued. And he would, by whatever means necessary.

He sighed. "The course of true love never did run smooth, so it's said. I may have told you that I chose you for this because I'd given him up as a lost cause. That's not strictly true. I knew if I could convince you, I'd have him as well. I'd say I've certainly gotten his attention. I did it once before, but the stakes are higher now."

His hands twitched on his thighs. He couldn't wait for this charade to be over so he could have a cigarette. Of all the sacrifices he'd made over the years, that was one he would not make.

"It's hard for me to sit by and watch someone squander love as you both have done. This action of yours will either be viewed by him as the ultimate act of betrayal, or will be the catalyst you evidently both need to take that final step. While I'm prepared for the consequences of the former, I don't think either of you will choose it.

"You have proven yourself worthy of my son, over and over again. Your loyalty will have its reward. Provided, of course, that you have the courage to act."

He took the syringe from his pocket. Very gently he brushed the hair away from the unconscious woman's neck and slowly injected the syringe's contents.

"If you knew what I was doing for you, you'd thank me," he said. "But I'm not doing this for your thanks."

He withdrew the needle and put the syringe back in his pocket. She hadn't even moved, courtesy of the drug he'd administered some hours earlier when they'd stopped for coffee.

She'd awaken in a few hours and they'd play this out to its conclusion. He felt a moment of regret for times past and brushed his fingers through her hair.

"Sweet dreams, Dana," he whispered.


Notes: I'm sure you guessed it's a missing scene from "En Ami."

Written for the Haven's "Heartbreak in 1,000 words or less" challenge. Not counting headers and blathering, the actual story is 999, I think...

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