title: as time goes by redux - the promise

author: erail beki, jedi knight

part two soundtrack listed at end.

author's note: i wasn't going to bother finishing this after seven days wasn't on spike tv for a while, but then it came back on and i got a couple good reviews. this is only for the people who reviewed :) thanks

[part two...see part one for disclaimer/summary.]

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Four Days Later

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Frank B. Parker, currently unemployed and single, lay face down on the motel bed, nowhere near passing out. He hadn't touched alcohol in the four days he'd been gone from NNL...and her...but damn did he need it. He rolled over to his back and stared at the ceiling for a while. The bright lights of Las Vegas flashed through the window, but he made no move to close the curtains.

Hard to believe it had been four whole days that he'd spent laying here, trying to figure out what the hell to do with his life. It wasn't a question most 30 year olds grappled with, especially one of his experience. He grunted to himself as he realized this was probably what Vietnam vets felt after they came home. Society wasn't exactly going to welcome him with open arms; all he knew how to do was kill people.

A small voice in the back of his head (which had a suspicious Russian accent) reminded him he had other skills. He pushed it down and grabbed the tv remote, intent on distracting himself from this morose brooding. It was not characteristic of him and it made him think he might hate himself.

He mindlessly flipped the channels, making an effort to avoid the news, bad sitcoms, and horrible dramas. As that left him the History and Discovery Channels, he decided to hope for Monster Garage. Unfortunately, all that was on was some special on the scientific impossibility of time travel. He laughed bleakly and switched to the History Channel. He let his mind get lost in the mindless learning of World War II battle tactics. Late night programming never afforded many choices.

He had almost drifted off to sleep when a loud banging on the door woke him. He shot up and was at the door in two steps. He opened it cautiously to find-- "Donovan?"

"Hey, buddy," he said quietly, pushing past Frank into the room.

"How'd you find me?" Frank asked, flicking the off button on the remote.

"Not really hard, Frank," Donovan replied, still quiet.

"Yeah, yeah. When you have the resources of the NSA, I bet it's not," Frank said, his tone flat.

"We have a problem," Donovan continued as if Frank hadn't spoken. "You and Ramsey were right."

"About?" A nameless fear bubbled up inside Frank as his fists clenched unconsciously. "Please tell me you're not going to say what I think you're going to."

"You were right about Joseph, Frank." Donovan said, his eyes downcast. "Ballard's dead, the fuel source has been stolen." He looked up. "I hate to be the one to tell you this, buddy." Frank could feel his fingernails digging into the palms of his hands. "He...did something to Olga, hit her in the stomach I think...she had a miscarriage, Frank."

Frank's teeth ground together suddenly. He stood quietly for a moment, his features twisting. Donovan jumped slightly as Frank abruptly spun and put a fist through the wall.

"I will kill him," he enunciated slowly. Donovan shook his head slightly.

"He went forward in time with the power source."

"Can we Backstep?"

"There's a chance we may be able to," Donovan replied. "There's some residual power left, but we're not sure how much or how far it will take you."

"Then what the hell are we waiting for?" Frank asked. He headed out the door and Donovan followed him, his features more grim than when he'd come in.

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Frank experienced a mild wave of deja vu as he reached out to knock softly on the door to Olga's room. Through the glass he could see her pale face turn to face him. A tear spilled down her cheek as he entered the room. He crossed it quickly and pulled her into a hug as she started crying. She clung tightly to him and cried hard for several minutes as he stroked her back reassuringly and murmured soft words of comfort into her hair.

When the cries of anguish had been reduced to quiet weeping, she finally pulled away, her red-rimmed eyes boring into his. "We were going to have twins, Frank."

"Twins?" he asked, mildly surprised.

"Yes, and he killed them. He couldn't stand the fact that they were yours and not his." Her expression turned savage. "If I ever see him again--"

"Don't finish that sentence, Olga," Frank warned. "You may not like yourself if you do. I'll take care of it." He could tell she finished it to herself anyway, even as she nodded to him.

She reached over to the table next to the bed and picked up her wedding ring. Handing it to him, she said, "Give this to me when you backstep. I won't believe you if you don't."

He nodded his understanding and pocketed it. He took her face in his hands and kissed her. "I should have fought harder for you."

"Do *not* blame yourself, Frank. This is my fault," Olga said.

"Is not," he replied.

"Is so."

"Is not."

Despite the recent events, they couldn't help the half smiles that broke out onto their faces.

"I'm sorry," she said softly, eyes focused on his lips. She reached out and grazed them with light fingertips. "I should have listened to you."

"It's a shame," he said, kissing her fingers.

"What?"

"You won't remember saying that," he said, cocky grin firmly back in place.

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The Backstep hurt worse than any yet, but Frank gritted his teeth and manhandled the control stick into doing what he wanted. He could feel his suspension from temporal events slip and he slammed into the time continuum with the rush that made him feel like he was stretched through a thousand moments at once. He gasped for breath as the Sphere shook, rubbing against the atmosphere in the friction-filled blast of re-entry. Sweat poured down his face mingling with the blood leaking from his eyes and nose.

"Just a little to the left, now up, you goddamn sonofa--" he muttered to himself as he focused on the needles, willing them into place. The Sphere rocked with the impact against solid ground and Frank felt his body thrown against his harness. He hung forward, suspended in it for a moment before smacking the release in the middle of his chest.

Gravity seized hold of his body and he tumbled forward into his panel, helmet thudding hollowly against the readout. The sound rang in his ears as he yanked hard on the hatch release, blowing the hatch outward. He pushed himself off the controls and jumped down the few feet to the open hatch, which was fortunately a few inches off the ground. He stepped through and yanked out his GPS at the same time, helmet still in hand. He tossed it down in disgust after realizing it was smoking ominously. He looked around, determined to navigate by the setting sun if he had to.

A glittering expanse of white caught his eye to the east and he turned to face it, taking a few steps as he did. He whooped with delight as he realized it was NNL and began stripping off his flight suit. He left it and his helmet lying in an undignified heap next to the sphere. He started running towards the base, steeling himself for the task ahead of him. Each step that ground into the Nevada desert sent a fresh shock of resolve through his mind that Joseph Vukavitch would be dead before the sun could rise again.

He stopped an intern obviously on her way home and demanded the date.

"Tuesday," she replied, no trace of surprise on her face.

"Dammit," he muttered under his breath. "Only three days."

"What happened?" she asked politely. Before he could answer, he caught sight of Ramsey coming down the hall towards him.

"Ramsey!" he yelled. "Where's Vukavitch?"

"Briefing room," Ramsey answered, taking in Frank's appearance as calmly as the intern had. "Did you backstep because of that Commie?"

"We were right, buddy," Frank said with a grimace. He resumed his jog, this time aiming for the briefing room. He arrived in only a few moments and could see the rest of the members of the team sitting around the table with the man Frank intended to pound into a bloody pulp.

He burst through the glass doors with Ramsey close on his heels. He reached out and grabbed the nearest heavy object, a paperweight resting on the table, and threw it as hard as he could at Joseph's face. He ducked just in time and it went crashing into the window behind him, sending a spider web of cracks out from the impact point.

"Get up," he snapped as his hands curled into fists. "So help me God, I'm going to kill you with my bare hands." Joseph's eyes cast around, searching for support.

Talmadge stood up. "What happened Frank? Obviously there was a Backstep, what's your mission?"

"To kill that sonofabitch," Frank snarled, pointing at Joseph, advancing on him as he did. Joseph scrambled backwards as quickly as he could.

"Who are you?" Joseph asked as he stopped behind Olga's chair.

"Your angel of death," he said, chuckling darkly. "Heh heh, sorry, I've always wanted to say that. The name's Frank B. Parker, chrononaut and man who is about to kill you."

"There must be some mistake, Mr. Parker," he said, his accent thick. "I would not have done anything that warrants a Backstep, much less killing me."

"Try stealing the power source for Project Backstep and murdering...people," Frank retorted sharply. He shifted his eyes to Olga briefly before returning his homicidal gaze to Joseph. She looked completely astonished at the events unfolding in front of her. He plucked her ring out of his pocket and tossed it to her. She caught it out reflex in her right hand, then looked at the ring finger on her left hand. She had obviously not noticed it vanish off her finger when Frank backstepped.

"If that's true," Joseph said, hands on the back of her chair, "how could you possibly have backstepped?"

"Residual power left over in the sphere," Frank answered. "Forgot about that, didn't you? I only went back three days, but it's enough to kill you for what you've done."

"But I haven't done anything!" Joseph protested.

"And you're not going to have the chance to, either," Frank assured him coolly. Donovan moved in behind him.

"Frank, why don't you just calm down for a minute here," he said. "Just explain everything and we'll go from there." He put a hand on Frank's shoulder but he shrugged it off. Joseph, sensing a momentary lapse in Frank's attention, yanked Olga up out of her chair and held her in front of him. A knife appeared at her neck.

"Try anything and I'll slit her throat," he yelled as he backed towards the door. Frank growled in the back of his throat, a primal sound he'd only ever had cause for in the heat of war. He took a step towards the pair, but his eyes locked onto Olga's wide frightened ones and he stopped moving. They were through the door and gone in the blink of his eye and he made a move to follow them, but Donovan restrained him.

"He'll only go for one place Frank," he said. They looked at each other and said in unison, "The hangar."

"But Dr. Ballard's down there," Isaac Mentnor interjected from his chair. He'd been quiet through out the entire exchange, but the worry was evident on his face. "He wouldn't--"

"He did last time," Frank interrupted. "We have to get down there and stop him."

"Got any ideas?" Donovan asked, cracking his knuckles in frustration.

"Yeah."

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Frank pushed open the door, careful to not let it make a noise. He slipped through it and closed it just as quietly. He held his gun out, cautiously peering over the edge of the railing. He'd come in by way of the roof, insisting he do this alone. They had protested, but all he'd allowed was a Delta Team led by Donovan standing by. He was going to have the pleasure of killing the man himself.

He quickly scanned the hangar and saw Ballard with some strange weapon pointed at him tapping in the commands to open up the power source access point. He stole down the stairs, careful to note that Olga was standing only a few steps away, her hands gripped tightly together.

"But Joseph I don't *want* to go into the future with you. Can't we just stay here? We can leave, you know, find a nice place in Russia and stay there where they can't get to us," he could hear her saying.

"I do this for Mother Russia," Joseph said calmly. "I always knew the Americans had something that kept them ahead of us and now I know what it is. We're taking it back to the future and swinging the balance of power back to us."

"But I thought you said--"

"I lied. The future is another, bloodier Cold War, not all peace and happiness. I can't believe you all accepted that nonsense. I made my ship able to hold two occupants just for you, my beloved; there's no way we're not going."

Frank crawled on his belly across the floor, winding his way behind the consoles and equipment to avoid being seen. He wasn't going to use his gun; he wanted to kill the bastard with his hands. He could hear the final click as the power source popped out and Joseph's triumphant shout. Frank risked peeking up and saw Olga pleading with him not to kill Ballard. Joseph shrugged and raised the gun. "Can't have you rebuilding it."

"No!" Olga shouted and pushed Joseph. The weapon from the future swung out and smacked Ballard across the face. He slumped into unconsciousness.

Frank wasn't close enough, but there wasn't and time to creep closer. He launched himself from ten feet away and slammed into the surprised Joseph. Both their guns went skittering across the floor. Joseph's came to rest at Olga's feet and Frank saw her pick it up before Joseph delivered a vicious kick to his face that sent him flying.

He picked himself up off the floor as Joseph reached out to Olga, telling her to give him the gun. Frank knocked his feet out from under him and pummeled him on the ground. Joseph grabbed his wrists and twisted them away. They rolled around the floor, grappling like wrestlers, knees and feet flying trying to find purchase in human flesh. Joseph let go of Frank's wrist long enough to sock him in the face. Frank rolled away, momentarily stunned. His eyes rolled groggily in their sockets as he desperately tried to stay conscious.

Joseph was telling Olga to give him the gun again. Frank could barely make out her face through the haze of pain, and he shoved himself to his knees as the whine of the weapon blasted in his ears. He flung his entire body upward, ready to tear Joseph's body apart piece by piece, but there was already a giant, smoking hole in his chest. His eyes stared vacantly up from his slumped position on the floor.

The gun clattered to the floor and a strange wailing came from behind Frank. He turned and caught Olga, who was halfway to sinking to the floor. He lowered her the rest of the way and pulled her into an embrace, legs sprawled at awkward angles. She howled her anguish into his chest, hot tears coursing a river down his front. Deja vu kicked in again as he grasped her close and whispered how much he loved her into her ear.

They stayed that way, clinging desperately to one another as the Delta Team stormed in, too late to stop anything. Too late to stop Frank from being a bullheaded idiot and forcing Olga to do what he'd meant to. He cursed himself in his head as he called for a sedative for the shell of a human being he cradled tenderly in his arms.

"Give her something that will make her forget," he ordered the doctor that crouched down next to him. "No one should have to remember this." The doctor, a graying man in his forties, nodded, understanding shining sympathetically in his eyes.

Once the sedative had done its work and Olga was safely unconscious in his arms, he picked her up and once more carried her to the hospital wing.

"I've been doing this way too much recently," he mumbled under his breath to no one in particular.

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Frank sat in a chair next to the bed that held the most important person in the world. Forget the president, forget religious leaders, forget the rich men whole controlled everything; the woman he loved more than life itself lay on the bed, unconscious and uncommunicative. He had been holding her hand since he sat down and he'd lost track of how long ago that had been.

His thumb lovingly caressed her palm as he leaned over to rest his head on her bed. He was dead tired, but he refused to leave her bedside. He let his eyes slide shut...wasn't anything wrong with catching a few minutes of shut-eye as long as he didn't get up. He sighed deeply and moved his head closer to her. He quickly and gratefully slipped into the darkness of sleep.

He woke what seemed like only seconds later to a gentle stroking in his hair. He looked up into beautiful blue eyes.

"Hey, gorgeous," he asked grinning. "How long have you been awake?"

"Only a few moments." Olga's gaze remained as serene and sedated as he'd seen it in a while. "What happened? The last thing I remember is..." she trailed off, visibly straining for a recollection just beyond her reach.

"Do you remember Joseph? Me leaving?" Her eyelids fluttered as she processed it.

"He came back from the future," she said haltingly. "You left because he came back." Her eyes widened as she remembered more. "You backstepped, but why?"

"He took the alien power source, kidnapped you, killed Ballard." She shook her head vigorously at that.

"No, Joseph would never--"

"He did, Olga." His gaze dropped to her hands, which he'd tangled with his own. "He took you and ran. I had to kill him." He stared at her as earnestly as he could, willing her to accept it as the truth.

"Did you do it purely out of vengeance, Frank?" she asked, her voice and eyes suddenly flat.

"No, there was a fight," he said, pulling her hand up to his mouth and kissing it. "I would never have killed him solely for vengeance." Even as he said it, he knew it wasn't entirely true and she eyed him with a look that clearly said she knew it. "Well, okay, there were some vengeance issues there. He made you miscarry. And that hurt me, but more importantly you."

"He...made me miscarry?"

"Yeah, he hit you because he couldn't stand the fact that you were having someone else's kids."

"Kids?"

"Hmm?"

"Plural...kids. Implies multiple children."

"Oh yeah, well that." One eyebrow went up. Damn her for being so observant. "Um, we're gonna have twins."

"So he was lying about us only having a son?"

"In fact, we going to have two sons," Frank answered, grinning broadly.

"You're quite proud of yourself, aren't you?" The baiting and familiar tone had returned to her voice. It overjoyed him to hear it.

"Well yeah, I mean, who wouldn't be?"

"Here I am having to do all the work and you're taking all the credit!" she exclaimed. "Typical for you, Frank."

"Hey, sweetheart, I'll be here for you every step of the way." He kissed her lips this time. "So are you going to be okay with all that's happened?"

"Honestly, I'm in too much shock to deal with it right now, so it'll probably come out later," she confessed. "Can we not talk about it anymore?"

"Whenever you're ready to talk, just tell me." He leaned in for a longer kiss. "I'm here for the long-run, baby."

"You'd better be," she admonished lightly. Her eyes rolled to the ceiling momentarily. "I guess this means we're found out, then?"

"Yeah," he said, dragging it out. "And everyone's cool with it. Apparently Donovan won the betting pool retroactively." He laughed. "And Talmadge promised he'll keep it from the panel for as long as possible. He can't guarantee anything in the end when they do find out, but I'd quit before I lose you."

"You already proved that," she said quietly.

"I shoulda fought harder for you," he groaned, pulling her into his arms and feeling the overwhelming sense of deja vu that inevitably cropped up.

"No, I should never have left you in the first place," she said bitterly from within the protective circle of his embrace.

"Let's not dwell on this, okay?" He pulled back to look her in the eye. "I love you and I'm never letting you go again." She sniffled slightly and he wiped away the single tear that had welled up. "Now, there are several people that want to see how you're doing and congratulate you. You up to that?"

"Only if you're with me," she said, allowing a half smile to break through the gloom that had settled around her face again.

"I'll always be with you, Olga. I promised I'd always come back for you." He reached into pocket and continued. "Oh by the way, we got interrupted a few days ago and there was something I wanted to ask you."

"What?"

He took a deep breath and pulled out the ring. "If you'd marry me?"

She eyed him suspiciously, not quite the reaction he was hoping for. "Is this only because I'm pregnant?"

"Actually, I bought the ring about a month after our first official date, at least three months before you got pregnant," he said, mildly amused.

"Then yes, I'll marry you." At his confused look she asked, "What?"

"You're so matter-of-fact about it." He slipped the ring on her finger. "Perfect fit."

"So were you!" she protested.

"Was not!"

"Oh sure, 'by the way, marry me?'" She glanced around at the hospital surroundings. "What a great place for a proposal!" She began to laugh and he felt his face flush. Something told him he'd just been had. She leaned over and kissed him. "It is perfect."

"Olga, whatever am I going to do with you? This whole time I thought you were a frigid and unfeeling woman who didn't know how to take a joke, and now here you are making fun of *me.*"

"You wouldn't have me any other way." She smiled warmly at him. "I love you, Frank Parker."

"I will always love you, Olga."

[the end]

thanks for reading.

part two soundtrack:

static-x - december

foo fighters - times like these (acoustic)

dido - white flag