Sorry to keep those of you waiting. I have been really busy and wanted to wait a little before I put this up. I don't know if this is going to be the last chapter or not. Debating. There might be a pithy little epilogue. Let me know if I should.
Keep up the reviews. Love it!
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
The letter said everything Serena needed to hear. She looked at the calendar. It was May 25th. There was unconditional surrender of Germany to the Allies and her Darien was coming home. She immediately got up and began cleaning the house. It needed to be spotless for Darien. He hadn't been home in so long! Was he supposed to come home to a dusty house?
After her initial cleaning shock, she phoned her mother and then Amy. She would meet the girls tomorrow for lunch to inform them of Darien's coming. She was bouncing around the house, Ralph following her and mimicking her mood. Occasionally he would bark and she would inform him that Darien was coming home! He would just stick out his tongue and pant. If he only understood the feelings running through her veins once more. The numbness was leaving and Serena was coming back to life, like a bear that had been in hibernation.
Serena didn't get much done or a lot of sleep for the next week. Everyone said she was looking better than ever. She was beaming. She was also graduating from her two-year teaching school, only a week after Darien got home. She was planning a party for he and her later in the summer. But first, she would let Darien relax. She would let him enjoy life back at home before pushing him into anything.
Everyone said that idea was for the best.
She didn't know what Darien would be like, getting back to civilian life. Andrew said that for some people, it was a shock. He didn't think Darien would particularly suffer, but it was a possibility that he would appear weird for the first couple of weeks. Serena prayed every night that Darien was safe and that he would come home somewhat intact. She had seen Andrew cry. She wondered if Darien would. She would do her best to comfort him.
On the twenty-ninth, she stayed up all night reading the letters he had written her, committing them to memory. She needed to know as much as she could. She didn't know if he would want to talk, but if he did, she would know what he was referring to. In the morning she bathed and put on a white sundress. She stepped outside and felt the humidity of coming rain.
It didn't dampen her spirits.
She drove out to the harbor by herself. This was a moment between her and her long missed husband. Once at the harbor, she sat in the car until two and went to wait outside. It was drizzling slightly. She had brought a white umbrella to shield herself with. She had the letters in the car with her. They were on the passenger's side floor. She would occasionally look at them. The man that wrote those letters was coming home any minute now. There were no more months of waiting, no more lonely nights. Darien would actually be lying beside here, instead of just his picture, in their bed.
There were many people scattered around the docks. Children and their mothers, wives and their husbands waiting for their sons to arrive so they could shower them with love and adoration. Aunts, uncles, all braving the weather to see their loved ones exit the ship, strong and healthy and come back home.
Serena stood there for an hour and a half. No word of the boat. A few people went to sit in their cars, but the resolute ones ignored the growing downpour and stayed outside. Serena was one of them. She wasn't going to give up. She hadn't all the long year Darien had been gone.
She just realized that through the marriage, they have been apart more than together. Darien had written her a letter around their anniversary, but like the rest at that time, it had been short and inconclusive. She sighed and stuck a gloved white hand out. The water splattered the glove, revealing her peachy skin underneath.
And then there was a shout. Something about spotting a vessel. Serena's heart skipped a beat.
And then she saw the smokestacks, the front of the boat, and soon enough, it was pulling into the harbor. She strained to look for Darien but no soldiers were on decks. She glanced around, her umbrella getting in the way. They lowered the bridge onto the docks and soldiers and began to descend. They were all dressed in civilian uniform, hats on, running for their loved ones. Serena began to grow frantic. Where was her Darien? Was he really on this boat?
Darien saw her first. She was on her tiptoes in the middle of the crowd, dressed all in white. And then she turned, spying him amongst the throng of people. It was as if the sun shown for a brief glimpse in the rainy sky. She was like an angel descended to Earth to save him. He pushed his way through people, trying not to hurt them. She let go of her umbrella and it flew off the docks and into the bay.
Serena ran into Darien's awaiting arms and he lifted her into the air, kissing her with a hunger he never knew he could possess. She was perfect. Her lithe, little body clung to his for support. His bags were dropped at his sides and he never wanted to stop kissing her. Darien breathed in her perfume and personal smell. He ran his hands over her body, easily making him yearn to more intimately touch her. A body that wasn't scarred, dirtied, emaciated, or in immense pain. Someone that needed him for him and not his profession. Someone that wanted him forever, not forgetting him when they felt better.
Zane and Nathaniel looked on and smiled. There was the Moonlight Maiden, straddling their medic unabashedly. They were with their families. They frowned slightly, sad that Joseph couldn't enjoy this with them. The rain pouring on them, she seemed to shine like a bright white light. The one that was supposed to be at the end of a dark tunnel.
Darien backed away from their kiss, not because he wanted to, but because he had something to say.
"I love you, Serena, and I never want us to be apart ever again."
"I know, I love you too." Serena was openly crying, tears and rain streaming down her face. "Darien, you're here! It was so hard!"
"But it's over now, and we'll never have to do it again, I promise." They stayed there, holding each other for at least an hour, before Darien grabbed his bags, Serena clinging to his side, as he led them toward the car. "I can't wait to get home! Mind if I drive?"
"Not at all." Darien held her hand as they drove back to Langley.
"What's in that box?" he asked her. Serena looked down at the box that was at her feet.
"All my letters from Darien."
"You kept them all?"
"Why wouldn't I? I read them every night you were gone! Well, the nights that I couldn't fall asleep, which was most."
"Serena, you have no idea how horrible I feel."
"No," she interrupted him. "You were right. This was something you had to do. This was something we all had to do. Let's talk about it later, okay? Right now, I just want to enjoy this." Both were smiling like they had heard the funniest joke. It was beginning to hurt Serena's cheeks but she just couldn't stop.
When they reached their little townhouse, Darien got out, taking his bags from the trunk. Serena grabbed the box of letters, bringing them inside. Once inside, they were back in each other's arms, leaving their belongings in the front of the door. "Are you expecting anyone?" he asked.
"Not that I know of," Serena said, putting a pensive look on her face. Darien then scooped her up and ran upstairs. Once upstairs he started kissing her with a fierce passion she never knew he had. Sure, Darien was affectionate, but this was something entirely new. Maybe she just found it particularly fascinating because they had been away so long. Darien ripped off his wet shirt, tearing the buttons. Serena knew she would have to sew them back on with her shoddy skills, but she didn't care.
Soon her dress followed his shirt and he was clutching her to him like she was going to disappear. He removed his pants and they tumbled onto the bed. She took off her bra and Darien ran his hands over her breasts, gently, despite his other rough touches. She slipped off her underwear and was lying naked on top of him. He too soon did the same and they were touching skin to skin and Serena had never felt anything so wonderful.
And naturally they made love. But it wasn't rough like Serena thought it was going to be. She thought that Darien realized she was here to stay. She wasn't going anywhere, and he relished in the feeling of having her. It was slow and tantalizing but both would not have it any other way. It was still early when they were finished, maybe a little past seven at the latest. But Darien was already asleep.
Serena stayed up watching him. His chest heaved in and out. How wonderful it must feel to sleep on a comfortable bed with a downed comforter. It was summer, but a nice cool breeze came in through the window, bringing in with it salty sea air.
Serena fell asleep shortly afterward watching her reposed husband. When she woke up, Darien was still naked, sitting at the edge of the bed, watching the sun rise. She got up, making the bed shift and he turned to her.
"The sun isn't this nice in Europe. I don't know why, but I have never enjoyed a sunrise more." He turned back to the window. "And I have seen a lot of sunrises."
"Darien," Serena said in a soft tone.
"You have no idea how nice it is to hear you say that." He continued on staring out the window. But not at the sunrise, he was seeing some place else. Some place she was never going to see. "I'm really tired," he told her. "If anybody comes to the door for me, tell them I will see them soon."
"Okay," Serena nodded. She got up out of the bed and put a fresh pair of underwear back on. She went to grab her nightgown off her chair and caught Darien looking at her.
"You've changed," he told her. "In a good way. You're, you're more grown up."
"You've changed too," she told him. "I don't exactly know how, but you have." She put her nightgown on and walked over to him. She ran her hand across his stomach, which had a scar. "When you're ready to talk about things like this, I'll be here," she told him. He nodded and looked out the window again. Serena got up and headed downstairs and began to cook breakfast.
He just slept. Serena would bring him up meals, put them on his night table, and then go to do what she had to. She was going to take time off of college, but all he did was sleep. She didn't mind, he needed it she supposed.
At night they would make love frequently. Sometimes more than once. And every night Darien would constantly look at her. She could feel his eyes on her as she tried to go to sleep. She didn't know what to think or what to say to him. He would talk to her and he would laugh, but he was still so reserved.
The girls would ask when they were going to see him. Every morning he would say the same thing. He didn't want to see anyone just yet. And she wouldn't push the subject.
It went on like this for two weeks. Serena would go over to her parents' house and they would ask about him, and she replied he was sleeping. Serena could tell her mother was worried. She thought her father a little more accepting of his behavior.
But on July 14th, he came downstairs with her and helped her cook breakfast. They took a walk outside and they would say hi to people they passed. Ralph would come along with them and sniff at everything around him.
Ralph and Darien loved each other. The one day Serena asked Ralph if she was chopped liver and he just went and hid behind Darien. Darien laughed heartily, the first good laugh she had heard from him.
The one night she felt him staring at her she couldn't take it. She turned around and looked at him. "Darien, why do you always look at me?"
"Serena, I just like looking at you."
"You act as if I am going to disappear. Darien, I am not going anywhere."
"I know that, but, I just-."
"Are you okay? I…I didn't want to push it, but if you have anything to tell me, I need you to tell me, okay?"
"I don't know Serena, you wouldn't understand."
"I am your wife, Darien, at least give me a chance."
"Serena, you don't know what it was like over there."
"I want to make it better Darien, can't you see, I have been trying so hard at giving you time. But are you ever going to tell me? It's been two and a half weeks and you haven't said one peep about it. You have scars all over your body-."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Darien, I want to help you-."
"YOU CAN'T HELP ME SERENA!" he yelled. Serena was immediately quiet. Tears glistened in her eyes and one fell. Darien was breathing heavily. He instantly felt grief at yelling at her. He hadn't wanted to yell, but he didn't want to talk.
"Darien, how is it ever going to get better if you don't let me help you?"
"I don't need your help."
"Who is this Darien? Who is this talking?" she asked, sobbing. "You're a medic, you should know better! You should understand that everyone needs help." Darien looked out the window. "That's what you do, you stare all the time! You listen in on the radio about the war around the clock. And I know you want to stay connected, that's a big part of your life. Your letters were comforting and I know you're sheltering me. I don't have to know all the details, but who else are you going to talk to! Please don't keep it inside Darien." She was sobbing hard now and could barely make out words. "You have changed Darien! The Nazis took you and I want you back!" She got off the bed and walked out of the room down the stairs.
Darien could hear her sobbing. He had been trying hard but he knew Serena was trying harder at making their relationship work. She served him without asking. And now she was asking and he couldn't serve her. He could, but he was reluctant. He didn't want to tell Serena about the people at the concentration camp or the soldiers he couldn't save. She was too precious for that.
He eventually got up, putting on a pair of loose pants and headed downstairs. Serena was lying on the couch; Ralph had his head next to hers. When he saw Darien he walked back into the kitchen where he slept some of the time.
"When we entered Paris," Darien began. "There were little children on the street, tossing flowers at us as we marched by. Adults were shouting French things I couldn't understand. One soldier was loosely translating, but we marched on." Serena sat up and looked at him. "My friend Joseph, who died, was to the right of me. He said, 'Don't you wish that girl of yours was here to see the flowers rain?' I said yes, I would love for Serena to see flowers rain from the sky." Darien walked over and sat by her on the couch. "I am ready to tell you some things Serena, but not other things. It's not that I can't tell you, I don't want to tell you. And there's a reason for that. This war needs to be moved farther behind us before I admit certain things." Tears were in Darien's eyes as he began his next sentence. "I couldn't save all the people Serena. And I shot people intending to end their life."
"There was this little kid, whose town had been hit by the Luftwaffe. Well, what was left of it after we destroyed the majority. He was on the road, just sitting there. I went over to him with a soldier that spoke partial French. He was from Canada. He asked him where his parents were and the little boy, holding a stuffed animal of some kind, pointed over to a charred building."
"His parents were lying, their bodies crisp from the fire. I ran over. The father had his leg severely burned but he was still breathing. He looked up, at the little boy, and grabbed his hand and said, 'Mon avenir, à vous.' It means, "my future, to you."
"In that moment I discovered that our afterlife may be with God, or it may not be. It may be in some hell, it may not be. But our soul belongs to the next generation. Our very being is preserved by the thoughts of the future."
"Some people, I know, will never have the future I will have." Serena watched as Darien cradled his head in his hands. His crying wasn't dramatic. It was silent. Tears ran down his hands. Serena put her head on his bare shoulder and rubbed his chest near his heart.
"Darien, you're going to give them a future. We all will. You'll go down as the greatest generation. The generation, that when called, served valiantly against everything that is evil." Darien looked up at her. She put her hands on his face and rubbed away the tears. "So please, can we make the future? Together? You don't have to tell me everything, but I would like to learn some things. But, at least, I want you to tell me enough so you can leave the past." He nodded and leaned forward, letting his head rest on her shoulder. She put her arms around him. They didn't fit around his shoulders.
"I love you," he told her.
"I love you too. Let's go to bed. We'll begin tomorrow." He nodded and got up, offering her his hand. She took it, latching her elbow through his and leaning against his shoulder. They walked up to the bed and climbed in, Darien clutching Serena to him.
Serena woke up to the smell of food. An awkward sensation, she usually woke up to a quiet desolate house. She put on her robe and wandered downstairs. Darien was there, still in his pajamas, flipping pancakes on the griddle and whistling. Instead of the war on the radio, there were tunes. "Darien?"
"Hello!" he said in a chipper tone. He walked over and planted a big kiss on her lips.
"Got the paper and already listened to the radio this morning. Now I am listening to the draft dodger."
"Frank Sinatra is not a draft dodger!"
"Touché," Darien said, poking her with the spatula. Serena squealed with delight and ran around the table. Darien chased her. Serena stopped abruptly and grabbed onto her stomach. A shade of green passed over her features. She ran to the garbage can and stood over it, sick sounds coming from her. "Serena!" Darien yelled, running over.
"Too much motion, I just got up."
"Serena?" Darien asked, a smirk passing over her face. Serena nearly fell. It was his smirk, the smirk that she had first hated then slowly fallen in love with.
"I think we have to pay a trip to the doctor, my darling."
"I feel fine Darien. I just moved too fast. Besides, I have been fine for the past couple of weeks!"
"Serena, my friend, my wife." Darien lowered his head to her ear. "The mother of my child," he said, grabbing her lower stomach area. Serena's heart fluttered and she grabbed Darien's shoulders.
"You really think so?"
"I believe I know so. I am a doctor. And you have been having rampant sex with your husband," he pointed out.
"Soldier comment. Sorry my lady!" Serena jumped up and he caught her. They began kissing and Darien put her down on the table. She smiled and moaned with delight.
"Oh gosh," he said, looking to his cooking. "I haven't cooked in so long."
"But I made dinner for you every night!" Serena added, her legs dangling off of the table.
"So does that mean I have to make you dinner every night?"
"Well if we are having a baby…"
"I see," Darien nodded. "If we are having a baby, I am going to have to get a job. I am thinking about going back to school to become a better doctor."
"You don't have to Darien! You really don't! Besides, aren't you still in the army?"
"Reserve. I am going to be a father. They don't want to ship new fathers out to war."
"We should go check before we get our hopes up."
"To the hospital then." Darien flipped the pancakes off. They were brown on the bottom, but still tasted fine. Serena took a shower first while Darien finished reading the paper. He said war in the Pacific was going well. He then took a shower and they got dressed in nice clothes and headed out to the hospital.
"Where do you want to get a job?"
"I am going to look at the hospital right now, and then maybe go into private practice."
"What kind of doctor?"
"Are you really ready for this? Because of the conversation we had last night and all, I don't want to usher you into something! I really don't! And I can work for a little bit before the baby is born, if we're having a baby."
"I want to take care of you. Just like I promised. And there are going to be times when it is going to be too much. I know this. But I can't shut you out, you're right. Plus, I need to make the future. That's why I fought the war over there. So, I can be with you," he told her, turning to look at her. Serena smiled. She had on a sun hat and her long blond hair was down.
"If you want this."
"I want it all." They pulled in front of the hospital and got out. They went right up to the desk and asked to see some sort of pregnancy doctor, whether it be physician or midwife. The secretary nodded and put them on file.
"You want to have people over for dinner tonight?" Darien asked.
"Are you sure Darien? I mean, last night, I fell like-."
"Don't worry about it! Trust me, I thought a lot last night. I didn't get much sleep."
"Darien, that's not good!"
"It's okay; I slept a lot in the past two weeks. Now I want to spend all my time with you. So we should have everyone over. Andrew, your family, and the girls."
"Really?" Serena said, ecstatic. "I was planning on having a party for us! I graduated and you came home! But I haven't gotten anything ready! What am I going to bake?"
"We can pick up some hamburgers and hotdogs. Have a barbeque."
"That's a great idea!"
"Shields!" a name called out. The two stood up and were led inside an examining room.
"Hello," a woman asked, coming into the room. She was relatively young. "I am a midwife here and you are?"
"Darien and Serena Shields," Darien answered.
"Darien Shields you say? Aren't you the doctor that went off to war?" she asked, looking at him with admiration. "I…I worked with you! Before you went to Europe!" Darien's eyebrows rose. "And…and this must be your wife!" she said, with slightly less enthusiasm. This was doing nothing to Serena's nerves. If she was pregnant, she would blame this waves of feelings on that.
"Yes. We think we might be having a baby," Darien said with admiration, looking at Serena.
"Well, let's get you checked out. Would you mind leaving the room Dr. Shields? I think the head surgeon is expecting you, about a job?" Darien nodded and left the room. "You are one lucky lady, let me tell you," the midwife said to Serena.
"Thank you," Serena replied. She put her legs up on the examining table. It was a little weird talking about her husband to an admirer.
"I am going to need you to take off all of your clothes and put this on," the midwife said, turning around as Serena changed. "Right, back up on the table!" Serena climbed back up. "I am going to ask you a few questions and I need you to answer them as honestly as possible. When was the last time your husband and yourself had intercourse?"
"Last night," Serena said, blushing.
"When he came home, when was the first time?"
"That night," Serena said, blushing profusely.
"And in between?"
"Every night," Serena whispered, turning the brightest red she had ever been. The midwife raised her eyebrows but didn't say anything.
"And he came home…?"
"About four weeks ago? A little less? June thirtieth to be exact."
"Okay, well then it is very possible you are pregnant. When was your last ovulation?"
"About a month ago, right before he came home." The midwife nodded.
"Okay, let's just have a look inside." Serena opened her legs and the midwife scoped around, poking and prodding Serena.
"Well, I can say with ninety-nine percent certainty, if you don't have your period in the next week, you are going to have a baby in the next eight months or so, possibly more," the midwife told her. A look of pure joy came over Serena's face. "Get dressed and we will find Dr. Shields." The midwife left and Serena stripped out of the robe. She put her clothes at the speed of light and raced out the door.
She ran into the sitting room, and there was Darien, sitting talking to another doctor in a white lab coat. He looked to her and a broad smile was on his face. "Yes?" he asked her.
"We're going to have a baby!"