CATEGORY:  Phileas/Rebecca het, episode-realted, angst

SPOILERS:  "The Cardinel's Design", "The Cardinel's Revenge", "Secret of the Realm"

RATING:  PG-13

SUMMARY:  Originally published on Aurora Journals website.  After returning to the Aurora, Phileas and Rebecca examine their feelings about events in the alternate dimension in "Secrets of the Realm"

Sacrifices of Duty

By Olivia Sutton

"You have to kill me, Rebecca."

She looked at him in complete shock. Ever since del Fiego had mentioned that by dying his similar would disappear, she had been afraid of this.

"If my similar vanishes in front of her majesty," Phileas continued, "That is our only hope."

"I'm not arguing with you, Phileas. If anyone dies it should be me. It's my duty." She'd answered him.

"Duty…duty? Your duty is to protect him. It is your duty to protect that! It's your duty to live! It's your duty to live! I'm under no such obligation. You have to kill me now. Rebecca, you must! Kill me now, now! We're dying anyway." He paused, then added, with resignation, "It just might be too late."

She'd realised then that he was right. Phileas was willing to give his life, not because he could no longer stand living with his own pain, nor because his periodic bouts of  melancholy were too much. Not even in a matter of honour. He was willing to die for duty, to protect his Queen, in service to his country. Rebecca understood that. She felt the same way. She stood. He had also gotten up slowly, painfully. This place put a drain on him that was slowly killing him. He was right about that as well. He'd been wracked with pain, practically since they arrived, and been reliant on her aid. He approached her. She stood behind him, he removed his coat. She touched his chest, then, overwhelmed with emotion she put her head on his shoulder and began to cry, "I can't do it!"

"Yes, you can!" he'd insisted. Then he yelled at her, "Now, do it now!"

She swallowed, sniffed and still crying moved her hand up to his throat, she leaned into his ear and whispered, "I love you, Phileas."

Swallowing, he answered, "I love you, Rebecca. Now, do your duty."

Closing her eyes, she tightened her hand, and as he had shown her years ago, she swiftly broke the delicate bones in his neck. He crumpled in her arms without hardly a sound, and she fell to the floor with him. She began crying in earnest and moved out from under him, leant over him, kissing his forehead, then his lips. Then she'd moved away from the body. She dried her tears and firmed her resolve. She swiftly removed her coat and blouse, exposing her chest, then reached for the bone dagger hidden in her corset. Phileas' plea that she live reverberated in her mind and her hand shook. Then she looked at his crumpled form. Swiftly, she placed the dagger above her chest and plunged it down.

And woke up. She could barely breathe, her breaths caught in her throat. Where am I? Dear God, where am I? She swallowed and slowed her breathing, trying not to panic. Then she looked around, disoriented, gradually her surroundings became familiar, the Aurora, she was on the Aurora, in her own room. Phileas was still alive and they were returning to London. Suddenly there was a commotion outside her room, and then the door burst in.

"Rebecca! Rebecca!" Phileas stood there, his face full of panic, then he rushed to her bed. "Rebecca! You're all right! Thank God!"

She looked at him, refusing to state the obvious.

"What happened? You must tell me, now, what happened?" Phileas continued, his voice panicky. He stood at the edge of her bed.

"What do you mean? I…I had a nightmare," she stated. "Did I cry out?"

He looked at her earnestly, "Becca, I felt your…sorrow, pain, desperation. It was so strong. Those feelings…I have a long-standing familiarity with them myself, but they were so strong…" he began shaking, then slowly continued,  "Then I felt…, God, help me, I felt nothing, Rebecca. You were gone. For the briefest of seconds, I couldn't feel your presence…it was, it was as if you died." He collapsed onto the bed, his head bowed, looking down at the floor, seeing nothing in his shock.

She leant forward, placing a hand on his arm. "I…yes, I had a nightmare…about the ship, that place. That, evil, evil, place, Phileas."

He raised his head looking at her rather than the floor, "Tell me, you must tell me."

"I…Oh, Phileas, in my dream, my nightmare, I killed you. Dear God, I…I don't know how I could do something so…monstrous and vile. I murdered you."

"Rebecca, you would have had too," he said quietly, "If it hadn't been for that…light, whatever it was, from the Grail…" He dropped his gaze from her face to the floor.

"Phileas, there had to be another way. But I'm not going to argue with you. Not now. There's more."

He looked at her then.

She looked at him, the scooted up in bed, making no attempt to hide her thin cotton night-dress, "I…I…God, how do I tell you this?" She muttered to herself, "I had a bone knife with me,"

"What? Why didn't you tell me? I would have been perfectly capable…"

She interrupted him. "I couldn't have allowed that. I couldn't let you damn yourself for noble reasons, Phileas. To have no funeral, no burial plot, your ashes scattered on the winds at a crossroads, your name never to be spoken. No. Even under those circumstances, it was inconceivable to me that you commit suicide. Murdering you was only marginally better."

He looked at her in amazement, surprised by the strength in her voice and words. He never realised how closely she held their Anglican traditions, not to mention the law. (1)

"But Phileas, I…you must understand, it was a dream, it never came to that, I might not have had the strength in the end."

"Oh, God," he mumbled.

"I took the knife and thrust it into my chest, and then I woke up."

He paled, "God, Rebecca--no, tell me, tell me you wouldn't have?"

"Phileas," she said softly, "If your similar could have harmed the Queen, so could mine. Despite your thoughts, we both needed to die. And I…so help me, I couldn't have lived with what I had to do, anyway."

"But I…I begged you."

"I know."

"And for you…" he shook his head, and looked away, unable to meet her eyes.

"It goes with the job. Phil…if you, if you and Erasmus had been on a mission. And killing him had been the only way to prevent him from giving up a secret, or to save him from torture, you would have done it, wouldn't you?"

Looking at her, he nodded, "If there was no other way…if it was our duty…if we discussed it and decided it together, if he forced me to do it. Yes, I would have."

"Could you have lived with that?"

"No," he said softly.

She nodded at him. She'd proven her point.

He looked at her, eyes wide in understanding, then he slipped to his knees besides the bed, held her hand, and bowed to her. Looking up from his knees, at her sitting in bed, her hair free and loose, he said, "Rebecca, marry me."

She looked surprised.

"Becca…I… I've wanted to ask for a long time, but I've always been so afraid. Afraid of the danger… afraid of losing you. Now I…you can stay in the service, if you wish, I won't force you to leave. You'll retain your name, lands, money, everything. I will see to that, if I have to find a solicitor to write up a contract personally. If something happens to me, you will have everything of mine except a trust for Passepartout and another for Jules. I promise you that, as well. But will you do me the honour of being my wife?"

"Phileas, I…"

He closed his eyes and bowed, "Please, my love."

She placed a hand on his face, delicately. He opened his eyes.

"Yes, Phileas."

He looked surprised, "Y…yes?"

"I…I realised something in that hell, Phil. I realised how much I need you, how much I love you. I…I will marry you."

He held her hands tightly in his own, then stood, and pulled her up from the bed. Letting go just long enough for her to retain her balance, he then pulled her to him, holding her in a tight hug. His mind flashed back. Earlier that night they had hugged silently like this, forgiving each other, supporting each other, and in too much shock to even speak. Now, he felt calmer, happier than ever.

"Phil…what did you mean, you 'couldn't feel my presence'?"

"Oh, that, I…" he held her shoulders and stood far enough away to be able to see her clearly.

"Phileas…you said, you said 'you were gone, I couldn't feel your presence'. What did you mean?"

He sighed, how to explain without making her think he was crazy? "I…I've always felt…I mean, I can feel… You are here, Rebecca," he pointed to his head.

"You can read my thoughts?"

"No…nothing so definite. I can, feel your emotions, sometimes. And I can feel, a presence, like a shadow, behind me. I can feel that you are alive." He let go of her, "Do you remember, Rebecca, our adventure in the 1620s? I didn't tell you everything that happened whilst Jules and I searched for you."

"No…you said, you found the musketeers, and an aide-de-camp of Richelieu's who had changed sides…"

"Yes, but he also told us…he said you were dead."

"What?"

"Jules became frightened, he was about to panic. I explained that I knew you weren't dead. That the Cardinal's man was lying or mistaken. Because I still felt your presence in my head. I knew you were still alive. If…if, God forbid it, you'd been dead, I would have felt that, too. I knew it."

"Oh Phileas.  How long?"

He didn't ask for clarification, he knew what she meant, "Since we were children. I…I also could feel Erasmus, when we were boys. And he felt my presence as well. I was… twelve, I think, before I realised that not everyone had a, a link, like that. Erasmus and I could even converse, silently, if we were close together and both concentrated."

She looked at him in awe, "My God. I never knew…losing him must have been…not having someone so close to you anymore…oh, Phil."

"Until now, it was…the hardest experience of my life to bury him. Having to ask you, someone I love,… forcing you to take my life… that was the hardest thing I've ever endured."

She nodded, then reached out to him, "Oh, Phileas. I'm sorry."

"No, Rebecca," he sniffed, "I've made it. Survived.  I'm here. And you're here. You will marry me, won't you?" He held her shoulders again.

"Yes, I… I… I've realised that being with you now…it would take some of the sting out of losing you, if it ever came to that," she stroked his face.

He reached for her hand, then moved closer to her, with one hand he touched her back, with the other he stroked her face then patted her hair. She gasped. "Becca, that is something I've realised as well. I need you. I'm willing to gamble on losing you at some point, if I can have you now. I'm still not sure how I would survive it, but…let's not dwell on that now. I swear, I will do my very best to see no harm ever befalls you."

"I feel the same way. Phileas, would you re-join the service?"

"I…I…" he looked away, seeing his brother falling to his death. Now he had a different perspective on it, he knew he could also give his life for Queen and country if he had too. During that mission he hadn't been so sure of that. "Yes," he answered, simply.

"Could you take over from Chatsworth?"

"No! I could never send you into danger the way he does. I couldn't order young agents to their deaths. You would be much better suited to run the service."

"Oh, so you couldn't order "young men" to their deaths, but I could?" She raised an eyebrow at him.

"You know it's not the same thing. You would be safe, sitting behind a desk, running the service. And you are much more intelligent than Chatsworth. I couldn't…it isn't possible for me…to sit, safely by, while good men die, Rebecca. I can't be the captain of that ship, I could, at most, be the first mate, and lead those missions on the ground."

"You think Chatsworth is a coward?"

"In a way--he's definitely blind and stupid, he had a double-agent right under his nose for years and never realised it. A double-agent that got my brother killed."

"And you feel you couldn't do that to another pair of brothers?"

He nodded, closed his eyes.

"And you also feel, that, I could? Like you said on the ship, that I was capable of killing you, because it needed to be done."

He opened his eyes, started at her, "I…forgive me, Rebecca, but yes, I knew you could do what needed to be done."

"I don't know if I have that much strength, Phileas."

"You do, Rebecca, you do. But I don't know that Whitehall would agree. They don't seem to see anything but your hoop skirts and corset. They don't know your strength. They don't know your dedication."

She turned away.

Carefully, he placed a hand on her shoulder, turned her back towards him. For the third time he asked her, "Marry me, Rebecca."

"I will, I promise, perhaps we should tell Jules and Passepartout and start making arrangements."

"This very night?"

"This very night--do you know how long it takes to plan a wedding?"

He smiled at her, and she moved into his arms, he held her tight, then kissed her. "Rebecca, don't ever, ever leave me."

She sighed, then kissed him back. "I'll do my very best, Phileas."

Finis

(1) "…Until 1823 [suicides] were required to be buried by law at a crossroads with a stake through [the] heart. … Until 1870, all your personal property was forfeit to the Crown, too, and once the stake business was ended, [suicides] were, until 1832, required to be buried at night only. And although suicides were thereafter permitted to be buried in a Church of England [Anglican] graveyard, no service could be said over the body." Pool, Daniel. *What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew*, "Death and Other Grave Matters", p. 253.