The conclusion. This one's divided into different POV's and times, all during the same day. During the part where they meet again, I had the song, "If God Made You" by Five For Fighting in my head. You should definitely look it up/listen to it if you like this. It just...fits. Perfectly. Also, I had two titles in mind for this chapter. Before I decided on this one, the other possibility was "I Know Someone's Waiting," which is the next line after the title of the story in "Journey to the Past." (Somewhere down this road, I know someone's waiting...) Clever, I thought. Anyway. Enjoy this last chapter, and PLEASE drop me a review, tell me what you liked!
She wandered breathlessly through the crowd, alone, her red ponytail fluttering in the wind. It seemed every two seconds another lucky girl who wasn't her paired off with another returning soldier who wasn't him. She gotten the letter, and she knew she'd gotten the right place, so where was he?
"Excuse me. Hi; sorry. Excuse me." Anya pushed past another happy, reunited family, and her stomach practically turned. Come on, where are you?
"Excuse me. Excu---hey, watch it pal. Move it."
Dimitri finally managed to make it off of the gangplank and onto solid shore, surrounded by a sea of identically uniformed men and the women and children that flocked them. The mass of people extended all the way up to the road, making spotting one person that much harder, but it didn't matter to him. He'd known her since he was nine; he'd know her anywhere, and he'd find her now, he resolved, and made his way into the horde.
Anya stretched up on her toes as tall as she could and scanned as far as the eye could see. Just because she hadn't found him yet didn't mean she was going to lose hope; not again, not now, and not ever.
While she waited for him to appear, her eyes settled on a young-ish looking guy about a ship's length off---he was so far away she could barely even see his face. He did look familiar, though....
Oh, my God...
Walking faster now, she headed in his direction, confirming her thoughts as she got closer. It's him! He's here! He's back! She broke into a run, and the swarm around her seemed almost to clear a path.
He saw her before she even opened her mouth. His forgotten suitcase dropped to the ground as he ran for her, and he didn't even notice.
Elated, she ran into his arms, and he lifted her from the ground and swirled her around in midair---even if her feet had been touching the earth, she wouldn't have felt like it. Finally, looking down at him like that, she did what she'd been longing to do for eight weeks; what, once, she thought she might never get to do again. She kissed him, perfectly, and never before or since has there been one to match it.
After the longest and best moment in the world, he set her down. "Anya..." To his surprise, he found he really hadn't had anything else to say.
She just laughed, and leaned in to kiss him again. She put her hand to his chest, but then pulled back, and looked up at him, curious. Her fingers traced against the medallion he wore. "What's this?" she asked, but a grin began to cover her face again, and her eyes seemed to already know the answer.
"Let's just say, I'm sorry," he said with a smile.
She laughed again. "Why?"
Dimitri recalled something she'd said when he left; something about not being the hero. "I got this," he told her, "by doing exactly what you told me not to."
"This is the Medal of Honor," she stated, awaiting confirmation.
"They gave you the Medal of Honor."
"They gave you the Medal of Honor?"
"What?" Dimitri laughed. "Why is that so hard to believe?"
Anya didn't answer him. Instead she pretended to look around the docks, struggling to keep a straight face. "I'm sorry, sir---"
"General," he corrected. He waited for her to catch it as she continued.
"---I was looking for my husband, must have gotten confused..." She stopped mid-sentence and did a double-take. Dimitri made a mental note to get a new camera. "What did you just say?"
"They promoted me to general."
"You're...they made you a general?"
This time Anya left all jokes aside, and the look in her eyes was definitely worth a thousand words. "I am so proud of you, Dimitri. I am."
He held her for a moment, the two of them oblivious to the rest of the world. Out of the corner of his eye, though, a few seconds later, Dimitri noticed Fin, a few yards away, tossing a little boy into the air, and smiled. Finally, with his arm around Anya's shoulders, they walked, together, for the road.
It was late---black outside, in fact---by the time they arrived home. Vlad had been with Tasha, so Dimitri and Anya had taken the extremely long way home, wandering around town, talking about absolutley everything that had happened over the last two months. Everything, that is, but the scare involving the newspaper---Anya saw no need to bring it up. By the time they got back, they knew of each other's ordeals as if he'd never left. Anya thought it would be nice to meet this Mikhail one day.
Dimitri opened door to his house, and a sense of familiarity came over him: after all the places he'd ever been, this one really was his home. He found it comforting that not one thing about it had changed. Not that Anya would have changed it, either.
He heard the pattering of little feet on the floor, and assumed Tasha had woken up until a small paw landed on his shoe. Stupid dog, he thought, not meaning it. I'll never be able to get rid of you, will I? He bent down and gave Pooka a fond scratch behind the ear. He'd only admit it reluctantly, but it had definitely gotten harder to stay enemies with the mutt.
Anya came in right behind him and shut the door. "Go on up," she whispered, for Vlad was asleep in the armchair.
"Are you sure about that?" Normally, waking Tasha was about the same as waking him.
Anya nodded. "She'll want to see you."
Dimitri took the stairs as quickly as he could without making noise. Anya, a little slower, was right behind him.
When he reached the door, Dimitri slowed down, and gently pushed it open. Walking across the lavender carpet, he carefully sat on the edge of the small bed, and brushed the sleeping girl's hair out of her face. Anya watched, leaning against the door frame, with a smile on her face that nothing could ever remove.
"Tasha," Dimitri whispered. "Tasha."
The three-year old's fair eyelashes parted just the slightest bit, as both sleep and the waking hours tried to claim her. Disoriented, her small, groggy voice tired to confirm what her mind told her was there, whether as reality or a dream.
Her eyes adjusted in time to see her father nod. The little girl's face lit up like Christmas, and she sprang forward, throwing her small arms around him. "Daddy!"
Dimitri shut his eyes and held on to his girl---one of them---as tight as he could. "I'm home," he assured, glad beyond description to say those words.
As Anya walked through the room, getting ready for bed, she noticed Dimitri rubbing his shoulder when he thought she wasn't looking. She stopped in her tracks.
He looked up, letting his arm drop back at his side. "Nothing."
"Yes, there is."
"It's really nothing."
"Dimitri." Anya went over and sat next to him. "Tell me. Are you hurt?"
"No! Well, I mean, not now; I mean there was a...." he stammered. He noticed the look she was giving him, sighed, and gave up. He pulled his shirt collar to the side, revealing the military-grade bandage on his shoulder.
"Oh my God! When did this happen? Why didn't you tell me?"
"It's not a big deal, I swear."
"'Not a big deal,'" she mocked, going and getting a new bandage from a drawer. "Three inches' difference and it's a fatal wound, but to you it's 'not a big deal.' Men are---"
"Babies?" he finished.
Anya looked up. "I was gonna say difficult, but sure, fill in what you want there."
He laughed. "You wanted me to walk into that one, didn't you?"
She sat back down, taking a cool washcloth to his shoulder. "Maybe," she teased.
"That was a setup, you admit it. You do realize I have to get my dignity back now, right?"
"Don't worry. You've got time."
Dimitri just watched her, transfixed, as she went about tending to his injury, realizing that she was the only person in the world who could drive him crazy and make his life worthwhile at the same time. He was proud to be with her, always, but now more than ever.
Sure, he figured, maybe Grand Duchesses didn't marry kitchen boys. Soldiers, however.... Well, that was a completely different story.
So, that's the piece! Hope you liked it as much as I liked creating it. Oh, also, as a side-note, I kind of had sort of a soundtrack for this in my mind while I was working on it. If you liked it, there are a few songs that go with it that you might wanna look up. First of all, I consider "L-O-V-E" by Irving the unofficial Dimitri theme song---it just reminds me of him, but substitute the line "Bo Tuesday" for "Anastasia." Then, I had kind of a snare-drum version of the finale playing in my head---that one doesn't exist, you'll just have to picture it. And there was "If God Made You" that I mentioned before, and "My Darling" by Wilco for when he sees Tasha again. Plus, I thought of "Learning To Fly" by Tom Petty as sort of the theme for the war thing in general, and for when he leaves her at the dock, there was "Age Of Consent" by Grant-Lee Phillips fading into "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root. Just a thought. :D Check 'em out, and let me know what you think of 'em/the story!