TITLE:  "Secrets", note original title was: An Act of Bravado, originally published on Aurora Journals website

AUTHOR:  "Olivia Sutton"

EPISODE INFO/SPOILERS:  "The Cardinal's Revenge"

RATING:  R, sex, implied violence

DISCLAIMER:  This fanfic is for the enjoyment of other fans only.  No money is being made from this fanfic.  No copyright infringement intended.  I'm just borrowin' 'em, will return when finished.  'Nuff said.

SUMMARY:  After his challenge from Cavois, Phileas finds he must tell Rebecca the truth.  And she must tell him a secret in return.

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  A big and special "thank you" to Lona, who beta read this for me, offered helpful suggestions, and provided encouragement to actually post this to the board.  Also, thank you to all the readers of the Aurora Vernealis list who provided me with comments, suggestions, and discussion of the original version and other SAJV topics, making it possible for me to revise and improve this.

Secrets

By "Olivia Sutton"

Rebecca Fogg sat quite still in the salon of the Aurora, quietly seething. How dare he? She thought. How dare he? He knows I can take care of myself, I'd never ask him to… the risk… Rebecca clamped down hard on that line of thought. She was angry with herself as well--when she'd insisted that something be done about Cavois she meant to be there personally.  That Phileas had gone off on his own…She continued to wait. Her cousin, Phileas Fogg was gone, along with his faithful valet, Passepartout. Rebecca didn't know where he was, only that he'd gone to take his revenge on Cavois for what he'd done to them both. She sat, waited, seething, and not allowing herself to think that he might not come back.

Rebecca heard a few noises, then Phileas entered the salon. He seemed unhurt, physically, at least, but there was something... Seeing the dark storm in his eyes, Rebecca could sense something wrong, something terribly wrong with her cousin. Her anger at him evaporated like dew on a summer's morn. "Phil? Phileas?" she called out to him.

He stopped, stiffly, turned and walked towards her, sitting down on a settee before her. Rebecca had seldom seen him look so pale.

"What happened, Phileas? What did you do?"

He sat, silently, just looking at her.

"Phileas, I don't need anyone to fight my battles for me. I didn't want you to fight Cavois, do you understand? But tell me, what happened?"

At that moment Passepartout entered the salon, also looking pale. She looked from her cousin to his valet, and back to her cousin. Seeing Fogg's face still stony and unresponsive, she turned slightly to address the valet, "Passepartout, what happened?"

"I, I am sorry Miss Rebecca, he told me, he said, not to tell you."

"Phil…Phileas, I am tired of you protecting me. What is going on?"

Phileas finally spoke, "Passepartout, you may go. My cousin and I…have things to discuss… you understand?" They were the first words that Phileas had said since they had arrived.

Passepartout silently left the salon.

"Phileas!?" said Rebecca.

"I… he challenged me, Rebecca. A battle, a duel…of honour, of wits, of courage."

"So, you defeated him?" She asked. Her cousin was more accustomed to gambling than dueling but none-the-less she knew he had dueled before, and he'd never appeared quite this affected by one. She felt certain that there was more to it.

"The game…Rebecca… the game was Russian Roulette."

Rebecca gasped, "Dear God. Don't tell me you agreed?" Looking at him, she had her answer, "Phileas… Phileas, Are you insane?"

"It was the only way to regain my honour, and to keep him away from you, forever."

Rebecca brought up her hands to hide her face, but the tears she didn't want him to see didn't come. She was too shocked to cry. She breathed, quietly, controlling herself, then lowered her hands to her lap. Taking a final deep breath, she reached out a hand to her cousin. With a strength she didn't know she had, she put it on his arm, held tight and quietly said to him, her eyes lowered, "Phil, Do you mean to say, that you…" she faltered, then looked him in the eye, "You willingly, put a… a pistol to your head? And pulled the trigger?"

He nodded, silently, then whispered, "More than once."

"What?" she said, not sure she had heard him correctly.

"I think you heard me, Rebecca, don't make me say it again." He replied, tightly, his face, now ashen with aftershocks.

Rebecca stood up, abruptly, turning away from him, and walking towards a window.

Phileas stood, followed her, and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Becca. Rebecca, please…"

Rebecca turned back, tears in her eyes, "How could you? Do you know what it would have done to me? Do you have any idea? It would have pulled my heart from my chest. Destroyed my soul. Losing you…like that, my God… I…I…Phil, I… don't know how I could go on without you."

"I… I couldn't…"

"Couldn't what, Phileas? Couldn't say no?"

"Couldn't stand the idea that he'd come back and hurt you. He's an accomplished assassin. He tried to kill you twice, Rebecca. And men like that… a man like that does not stop until he's fulfilled his…contract," Phileas spit out the last word, disgusted by the very idea.

She tried to calm herself, struggling to control her tears, as what had happened started to impact her feelings and thoughts, "So, he's dead, then," she said, simply.

"No… no, the last time, he…lost his nerve, dropped the gun, I picked it up….fired… the bullet lodged in the wall behind him. I had won, Rebecca, I won. He still lives, but he is in disgrace. He will never bother you again." He gathered her to him, pulled her close, and whispered quietly in her ear, "Rebecca, I did what I thought I had to do, please believe me, I felt I…"

Rebecca stayed in his arms for a moment, her fears at nearly losing him overcoming her anger. But only for a moment, then she pulled out of his hold, "Phileas, I… let me think about this, I don't know-- I'm not sure I can forgive you," she turned away.

He nodded, silently, in understanding, "Rebecca…I care about you.  I had to save you," He said, earnestly.

"No, Phil, no.  Your indifference to your own mortality… Why?"  She turned and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Because, Rebecca, I love you."

She looked at him. "I know, Phil, I know. But… I do… not…. want… your…" she stopped, having paced out her words, "God, I can't even say it," she took a deep breath, then tried again, "But not on my conscience, Phileas, I could not handle your death on my conscience."

"Please, don't…"

"What?" she asked, not unkindly.

"Forgive me, Rebecca. Please, just….forgive me." He hung his head, and turned, beginning to walk from the salon.

"Phileas!" Apprehension struck at her heart, and she ran to him, grabbing his shoulders, throwing herself in his arms. Hating herself for showing so much of her feelings, she said, "I… I forgive you. But please, don't ever do something so reckless again. Please, I beg of you. Don't leave me because of some stupid belief in honour. Don't desert me on purpose. God, Phileas. Don't you know what you mean to me? How much I… I love you, Phil. I mean that."

He nodded, and held her, "I thought, I thought I could handle it. Whatever happened, I thought I could… but I'll be having nightmares for some time now. I'm just glad… that is, it's over. I'm glad you're safe. Rebecca," his grip tightened on her shoulders, "Oh, Rebecca, I…"

She moved forward, tilted her head, and kissed him. He kissed her back, holding her tightly, then moved a hand to stroke her face. She moved one hand up and down his back, and with the other, touched his face, lightly.

He closed his eyes, breathing silently. Then he opened his eyes, and lifted her up. Quickly, he moved to the settee, and placed her upon it. He stroked her hair, then her face. "You are so beautiful," he said huskily.

She pulled him closer, breathing in his scent. Quietly, she held him to her breast, stroking his hair. After a few minutes, she quietly said, "Oh, Phil… Why, why do you always have to take such risks?"

Phileas sat up straight, pulling back from her a bit, then looking straight at her, said, "Me? I'm no longer the one risking life and limb for Queen and country."

She sighed, mentally tabling the discussion before an argument ensued. Now wasn't the time to argue with him. She kissed him again, enjoying his scent, his taste, realising that she wanted him. She began the time-consuming process of undoing all the tiny buttons on her clothing.

He realised her purpose and placed a hand on hers, stopping her, "Are you sure?"

She nodded, "I'm sure. I could have lost you today. So easily, I could have…" Tears came to her eyes, "A game of chance, Phileas. Blind luck. One in six odds that you wouldn't have returned to me… Please, yes, I want to do this, I want to… Please, I need you."

He nodded, kissed her forehead lightly, then repeated, "I love you, Rebecca," before kissing her lips and pressing down on her. He stroked her face with a hand, then kissed her brow, as he began to move lower, he suddenly became acutely aware of their surroundings. "Uh, Becca…"

"Um," she mumbled.

"Rebecca, I think, perhaps, my quarters? Or yours?" He moved off of her and stood up near her.

Rebecca, bright red with passion, opened her mouth but couldn't quite say anything, she breathed for a few minutes, then said, "You're right, of course, Phileas," she paused, then added in an undertone, "This time."

He smiled at her, and moved to pick her up.

She moved away along the settee, gathering her dress closed in front as she did so. Then she stood, and led him towards her room.

Once in her room, Rebecca lay down on the bed, gesturing him towards her. He moved slowly toward her, reaching the bed he sat next to her. Rebecca began to work the remaining buttons on her clothing, Phileas removed his cravat, collar, coat, and waistcoat. In his shirtsleeves, he reached towards Rebecca and began to unbutton and remove her clothing.

Rebecca now wore only her chemise and Phileas still wore shirt sleeves and trousers, Phileas leaned towards her and kissed her chest, just above her breasts. Rebecca gasped and reached out for him, holding him close. She unbuttoned his shirt, and he removed it, then helped her remove her chemise. He kissed her chest between her breasts. Rebecca groaned with pleasure and pulled him closer.

As he kissed her on her lips, Rebecca closed her eyes and tenderly returned his kiss. Then she moved closer to kiss him again, feeling her way to him, her eyes closed, he moved on top of her, kissing her, stroking her hair. But despite her smile, and her obvious desire, Phileas soon realised she was shaking. He moved off her, taking his hands away, and said softly, "Rebecca?"

She opened her eyes and looked over at him next to her, "Yes," she answered.

"You're shaking. What's wrong?" He asked, propping himself up on his elbow as he lay at her right side.

She turned away from him, damn, she thought, I thought I was ready for this, I thought I was finally ready, then she muttered to Phileas, "I've never done this before. Well, at least by choice."

"What!" Phileas said, as his blood chilled at the implication of her comment.

"You heard me, Phil, don't make me repeat myself." She replied, echoing his own comment from earlier that evening.

Teeth clenched in barely controlled anger, he said, "Who hurt you? When did he… hurt you?"

Rebecca shuddered. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." She said, turning away from him.

He ever so gently touched her shoulder, "No-- It's not your fault. Never your fault, Rebecca," he sighed, "Look at me."

She turned so that she faced him, tears in her eyes.

"Just tell me. Who did this?"

"It was a long time ago, you were at university. Erasmus--"

"Erasmus!" He moved to get up off the bed.

"No! He took care of it. Of me. He found me, he saw…he knew. Damn. What had happened was obvious. He made me tell him who…then… the 'gentleman' disappeared." Her tone on gentleman was sarcastic. "Phileas," she put a hand on his arm, pulling him toward her, "It's all over with. Erasmus saved me. He took care of me. He taught me enough to take care of myself. Like you've saved me so many times, Phil. Everything is all over with. Just don't be angry with me."

He moved closer, and lightly touched her face, "Oh no, never. Never angry. Oh, Rebecca. Why didn't you ever tell me?"

"I…I couldn't. Me, independent secret agent, admit something like that?" she snorted, "A vulnerability like that?" she added sarcastically. Then she said quietly and earnestly, "Besides, it's over.  I…"  she paused, "I exacted my revenge later."

"It's all right, Becca. May I hold you?"

"Please, do."

He held her close in his arms. "Rebecca?" He asked softly.

"Hum?" she answered, smiling at him.

He scooted up towards the headboard of her bed, "Rebecca, if you won't tell me who was responsible for hurting you, can you at least tell me when it happened?  I mean, how old were you?"

Rebecca sat up in the bed, pulling back a little, "Does it matter?"

Phileas reached out and touched her shoulder, "Not really, not in the way you mean.  I…I just …I want to know."

Rebecca sighed, looked away, then she pulled her hands away from him and looked down at them.  Quietly she said, "I was fourteen, Phileas."

"Fourteen…only fourteen?  Oh, Rebecca."  Tears came to his eyes.  She reached out and held him.

He held her, stroking her hair, occasionally murmuring quiet and soft words in her ear, then he asked her, "For tonight, is this enough? Holding, touching is it enough?"

"I…you don't…you don't want me, now, do you?"

"No, no, no, my dear Rebecca, I just don't want to ever, ever hurt you in any way. Yes, I want to do so much more, believe me."

"Then go ahead. I…I want to be with someone I love, Phileas."

"As do I, Rebecca." He hesitated, then added, "love you, I mean."

Rebecca moved into his arms, then, and kissed him. He kissed her again, gently, then more hungrily. Slowly, carefully, then more urgently, more hungrily he made love to Rebecca, mindful not to hurt her, to let her lead him where she wanted. But always, he let her know how much he loved her, how precious she was to him.

Early the next morning, Phileas awoke as the first rosy light of dawn began to shine into the dark room. He sighed, contentedly, then leaned back against the headboard of Rebecca's bed. Turning up the Hurricane lamp on the bedside table, he watched her silently, sleeping beside him, her hair loose and tumbled around her bare, creamy white shoulders. He reflected he had loved her for a long time. But now, unlike before, he was in love with her as well. Perhaps he had been in love with her before and that was why it hurt him so to see her risk her life so often, but of that Phileas was unsure. He only knew that now, now he loved her as her own woman, beautiful, tender, strong, independent and free, as was how it should be.

But God, what she had said to him, he thought. Her secret, and what a secret it was. He had never known, never even suspected. If he had, he would have found the cad and torn him limb from limb. And what did she mean, Erasmus found her? What had his brother found? He shuddered. Then he fervently hoped she hadn't tried to… he stopped the thought. He knew her well, but now he knew he didn't know her as well as he thought. And to be so young, his thoughts continued, so young when her innocence was torn away.

Rebecca rolled the other way, then began thrashing around in her sleep. She began to mumble, and Phileas, recognising that she was having a nightmare, moved to wake her. Then he caught the words she was mumbling, "No! God, no, Phileas! Please, please don't… Don't do this for God's sake… Noooo!" She screamed, and sat up straight in bed, she was covered in sweat, and shaking, breathing heavily.

"Becca?" asked Phileas, tentatively, reaching out for her with one hand. "Rebecca, are you all right?"

She looked up at him, and nodded. "Phileas, you're here…you're all right," she reached out a hand towards him.

"Of course, I'm all right, Rebecca. What did you think?"

Rebecca took a deep breath, "I thought you'd died, Phileas. I thought I was alone. Oh, Phileas…"

"Shush, ssshhh, there, there, my love," he took her in his arms, "I'm right here, I'm not going to leave you, Rebecca."

With her head on his shoulder, holding him as tight as he held her, she said, quietly, "I saw it, Phileas. I saw you and Cavois…the duel…you, then him, then you, and finally… I saw you click the gun, twice, then the…the last time… Oh, Phileas, Why?"

"Becca?" He said.

"Phil…Phileas, in my dream, I saw… you didn't walk out of that room, Phileas." She finished, her voice detached as she stated her dream, though her gut felt like it had been punched.

"Oh, Rebecca," he sighed and held her tight, gently he touched her back, "It was only a dream, a dream, Becca. That's all. I'm here. I'm safe," he picked up her hand and laid it on his own chest, "Feel that? See, I'm fine."

She pulled him close, again, kissing him deeply. His kiss warmed her to her very toes, she sighed, contentedly, "You scare me, sometimes."

"Oh, no… No, Rebecca."

"I'm afraid… I'm afraid I'll lose you," she said, quietly, as she lay her head on his chest.

"I'm here, I… I survived it. I'm sorry about your nightmare."

She nodded.

 Then he pushed her back, just as gently, and as she closed her eyes, he held her by the shoulders, looked at her, placing a hand on her face, the other still on her shoulder, "Rebecca, dear, sweet, Rebecca."

Rebecca, opened her eyes. He'd never addressed her like that before.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I don't want… I didn't mean to frighten you."

She nodded, "Hold me."

He nodded as well, then gathered her to him. Gently he held her, and she was soon asleep again.

Phileas sighed and watched her sleep. She knew, he thought, somehow she knew exactly what happened. Though she called it a dream, she had seen exactly… everything, even more than I told her. Phileas shuddered. He'd long felt that he had a link to her, that he would know if he lost her, that he would feel the lack of her presence. In part that was why what she had said about her ravishment had been such a shock. He didn't remember ever sensing she was in that much trouble. Well, thank God, Erasmus had taken care of her back then. And, Phileas vowed, he would take care of her now. He would make sure she remained safe. He would watch over her and protect her, because he loved her so.

The End