Disclaimer: SAJV, Phileas, and Rebecca do not belong to me. Alas, neither does the Aurora...

This was my first real attempt at anything resembling romance. Please let me know what you think. :) If it's good, I'll write more. If it sucks, I promise not to do it again :)


CARPE DIEM
by: Blue

Talking with Agent Blayne always left Phileas feeling tired, for some reason, especially when the topic was Rebecca. He had never been able to explain this phenomenon, try as he might, and there came in a point in every encounter with her where he simply had to leave, or risk an emotional outburst.

"It's getting late..." Phileas noted mildly.

She nodded in tacit understanding and turned to leave the observation deck. "Do you know much Latin, Fogg?" she asked as she went.

"A fair bit." Phileas admitted. "Why?"

"Carpe diem, Fogg!" She leaned towards him, looking by her expression remarkably like Rebecca for a split-second. "Carpe diem before it slips away forever, Phileas."

Phileas watched her go thoughtfully, wondering why she had called him 'Phileas' when she had never in ten years called him anything other than 'Fogg'. He shook his head and started back towards his room once he was sure that she must be in her own. He hesitated at Rebecca's door for longer than was proper, not caring.

"Before it slips away forever, hmm?" he whispered, thoughtfully.

He closed his eyes and put his hand on Rebecca's door. Unable to believe what he was doing, he slid the door open and moved silently into the room, closing the door behind him. Rebecca lay in her bed, breathing softly. Sleep was the only time she ever wore her hair down, and as his eyes acclimated to the darkness he saw that it was spread around her head like a halo. As though in a dream, he reached out and touched it, something he had never done before, though he had always wanted to. He closed his eyes again, shaking, and turned to leave before he decided to live out any of his OTHER dreams about her.

Rebecca stirred. "Phileas? Is that you?" she asked groggily. "Are we in London already?"

He spun around guiltily. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you." he whispered, kneeling next to the bed. "I thought I heard something."

She sat up and lit a candle. "No, see. Just me."

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have woken you."

"It's okay, Phileas." She stared at him for a moment, then reached out to touch his forehead. "Did you have another bad dream? You look flush."

"I must have." He nodded weakly, hoping that she would not press the issue further. "I just thought I heard something..."

Rebecca smiled gently. "Shall I heat a glass of milk for you?" she asked.

"No, that's really not necessary."

She smiled. "Why don't we go downstairs and have a drink, then? I've been having trouble sleeping myself."

"Really?" he asked. "Are you well?"

"Fine. Just... having some odd dreams." She smiled and stood up. "Come on. A drink will do us both well."

As he walked her down the stairs, he asked, "What were your dreams about?"

She smiled and stared at her feet. "I don't remember."

"Really?" He raised an eyebrow, wondering why she had lied instead of telling him that she would rather not speak of it. "Brandy?"

"Please." Rebecca sat in an armchair and pulled her legs under her chin. "I can't remember the last time a dream kept me awake at night."

"I can." Phileas handed her the glass. "You were sixteen."

Rebecca started slightly, then blushed.

"NOW you remember." Phileas smiled and sat down on the floor at her feet. He was not sure what made him sit like that, except that there was something so comfortably RIGHT about it. It suddenly occurred to him that Agent Blayne might have been right about them.

"I climbed into your bed." Rebecca smiled, embarrassed. "Must have given you a frightful shock."

"I believe that's the reason I stopped sleeping in a big four-poster." Phileas chuckled, resting his head against her legs.

"STILL afraid I might decide to climb in with you, are you?" Rebecca laughed.

"Ah, well..." Phileas blushed, which only made Rebecca laugh that much more.

She was careful to laugh quietly of course, so as not to wake the others and lose this rare moment of camaraderie with Phileas. "I HAVE rather grown up since then, Phileas." she pointed out.

"As I recall, you were quite... grown-up then." Phileas laughed gently.

Rebecca covered her mouth. "Sir Boniface was furious." Rebecca recalled, smiling. "I can just imagine what must have gone through his mind..."

"Not that he can be blamed for assuming that his no-good son was taking advantage of the poor orphan-girl in our care." Phileas smiled up at her. "Little did he know that no one takes advantage of you without your full permission."

Rebecca smiled smugly and sipped her brandy. After a moment's silent reflection, she asked, "Do you miss those days, Phileas?"

He sat thoughtfully for a moment before slowly nodding. "Very much, sometimes. It was all so innocent." He sighed and stared up at her.

Rebecca set her glass down and slid out of the chair. She sat next to him, half facing him. "There's no going back, is there?"

He shook his head. "Blayne can talk all she wants about new chances, but some things can not be undone."

Rebecca sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. "Not being able to go back makes the loss that much worse." she muttered sadly.

"Look at us, Rebecca." Phileas muttered, taking her hands in his. "We are two rich, attractive, intelligent adults, and we are both miserable. Why is that?"

She frowned. "I'm only attractive and intelligent, Phileas. I have very little money."

"Everything I own is yours, Rebecca. You know that." Phileas stared at her.

"I know, Phileas, but it isn't the same. Sir Boniface, damn him, brought me up to be wary of taking money from anyone at all, even you."

Phileas sighed. "But you know that it's always there if you want it?"

"Yes, Phileas. Of course." She stared at him, wondering why he was acting so oddly tonight. "Is something wrong?"

"Don't you ever get sick of it, Rebecca?"

"Of what, Phileas?" She frowned.

"Being miserable? Being... alone?"

Rebecca gaped, realizing where he was going. There was no way of removing herself from his grip without making it look like a rejection, and she would never have dreamed of rejecting him. She smiled sadly at him. "We aren't alone, Phileas. We have each other."

"It's not really the same though, is it?" he pressed.

"Phileas..." Rebecca caressed his cheek.

"It could be different." he suggested gently.

Rebecca hesitated. He actually meant it. "Phileas..." she muttered, leaning closer. It suddenly occurred to her that, if he asked at this moment, she would say yes in a heartbeat. "Go ahead, Phileas..."

He took her hands very tenderly in his and kissed her fingertips. "Rebecca. You must know by now how much I care about you."

"Of course, Phileas. You've always taken great care of me. I appreciate it, even if I don't show it."

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, composing himself. Rebecca found herself wishing that he had not. Not many could move Phileas Fogg to actually emotion, especially of the positive variety, and Rebecca was always touched by her ability to be one of those people.

"Rebecca..." he began slowly. "Would you ever consider... changing the terms of our..." he trailed off, shaking his head. He was making it sound like a financial arrangement.

"Phileas?" Rebecca took his face in her hands and pulled him close. It would be a fine line between prompting and pushing. She chose her words carefully. "Talk to me. Tell me what you are afraid to say. You need to ask me something, is that it?"

He nodded mutely, his mouth trying to form words.

Rebecca laid one finger over his mouth. "You must know by now that I could never refuse you anything, Phileas. Ask and ye shall receive."

Phileas trembled and covered her hands with his own. "Tell me you'll never leave me." he gasped, sounding desperate. "First tell me that."

She shook her head. "Never, Phileas. I would NEVER leave you, no matter what."

He nodded shakily. "I have loved, REALLY loved, only two people in my whole damned life, Rebecca. Erasmus is dead. The other..."

Rebecca watched him uncertainly, hesitant to mention the name of the American woman Phileas had once been engaged to. "Yes, Phileas?"

"And the other is sitting on the very cold floor with me in the middle of the night when no two decent people should be up, barely clothed and... putting up with a rambling imbecile." He stared at her shakily, a hopeful look in his eyes.

"Phileas?" she muttered.

"You are my sun, the center of my universe. Without you there is no light... There is... nothing." He caressed her face. "Would you..."

"Mmm?"

Phileas seemed at a loss for words again, though his intent was clear. Rebecca smiled gently at him, resting her forehead against his. The words could come later. She was a patient woman. Now that the intent was clear, now that there was no going back, she could wait for as long as she needed to, as long as HE needed her to. She smiled at him understandingly. He had tried to propose to her once before, when she had been seventeen, but as he had been horribly drunk, she had been more angry than flattered and had given him a black eye for his troubles. She had been an idiot then. They both had. Now she found herself grateful for another chance. She gently traced the outline of his cheek with one finger. When he tried to speak, she shushed him, shaking her head and laying one finger over his mouth.

He kissed her fingertip and wrapped his hand around her wrist, pulling it away from his face. He smiled at her in a way that he had not smiled for years and tilted his head a little to the left, brushing his nose against her face. He wondered if she would let him kiss her, or would make him wait, and found that he did not much care. This was Rebecca, not some casual fling. He would wait for as long as he needed to. He licked his lips, appalled to find himself nervous.

Rebecca, mildly amused by his hesitation, decided to take the initiative for herself. She leaned into him, her body brushing his gently. She opened her mouth and titled her head upwards, first kissing his chin, then slowly moving her mouth towards his.

Phileas felt an entirely new sensation at this. He shuddered and slid his arms around Rebecca. His eyes were closed again, but this time there was no attempt to deny the emotions that were boiling up within him. He kissed her eagerly, grateful that she had moved first.

Rebecca pulled away first as well. She looked at him curiously. "Ah... Phileas." She shook her head, amazed by the feelings within her.

Phileas took her hands. "That was the most amazing kiss I have ever shared with anybody."

Rebecca smiled. "It WAS amazing, wasn't it?" she agreed.

"Thank you for it."

"'Thank you'?" Rebecca laughed. "'Thank you'?"

"I'm sorry. I can't think of anything else to say..." He smiled sheepishly.

"How about 'until next time'?"

"Until next time." He smiled and kissed her hands. "You are so beautiful..."

Rebecca smiled and bowed her head. "Don't." She stared steadily at him and shook her head firmly.

"Don't?" Phileas looked surprised.

"Please. Things should not be any different, Phileas. Please?"

He nodded. "I fell in love with you exactly as you are now."

"And I fell in love with you exactly as YOU are... So let us not change anything."

"NOTHING?" Phileas smiled at her. "That's a shame, because I was looking forwards to another kiss like the last one." As the floor was becoming quite intolerably cold, he climbed to his feet and helped her up.

"Right, then. Almost nothing..." Rebecca kissed him again, holding him close. "ALMOST nothing..."

"Do you know how long I have wanted to do this?" Phileas muttered, just holding her.

"As long as I have? Since a sixteen year old climbed into your bed on the pretext of a bad dream?"

"Pretext?" Phileas laughed, staring at her. "YOU!" Still laughing, he gathered her into his arms and swung her around the room, laughing like a young man again.

Laughing, Rebecca allowed herself to be swung about until Phileas was quite exhausted by the effort. She took his hand and walked to the couch with him. She sat next to him, letting him hold her for the first time since her childhood. Something had changed in him, she decided, and for all her talk about keeping things that same, she found that she liked him very much better this way...