A/n: This first chapter is set entirely within the World War II simulation. I've taken some liberties with the scenes taken from the episode and changed event order to suit the plot. Captain Janeway is Katrine, Seven is Mademoiselle De Neuf, Chakotay is a US Army Captain, Tom is a Lieutenant, B'Elanna is Brigitte, Tuvok is the bartender and Neelix is the courier.
"But Colonel have you ever considered that St Clare just may not have any resistance? I don't see why I should have to…" The tall dark man in a captain's uniform stared at his commanding officer in disbelief.
The young normally jovial Lieutenant beside him interrupted looking directly at the Colonel behind his desk. "They'll be there. I spent a summer in St Clare in '36, they're proud of their city, would do anything to defend it."
The Captain snorted. "Let me guess you think you're an expert after eating some snails and falling in love with a French girl…"
The Lieutenant flushed, "Well, yeah but…"
"It doesn't matter Captain, you're going. We got a message from the French Underground saying one of their most loyal people is stationed within a cell in the city. This operative is in munitions, quite militant apparently, you're to go and meet up with this person and exchange information." When the Colonel saw the Captain's pensive expression he clarified, "I chose you for a reason, you're fluent in French, familiar with the country, for God's sake you were reprimanded by the State Department for aiding the Resistance while we were still neutral! Whatever happens we're invading Tuesday at first light but I'd prefer to know the lay of the land."
The Captain sighed in resignation. "Yes, sir."
"Good." The Colonel replied, throwing a scrap of paper in his direction as he did so. "You've to be at the side door of an establishment called La Coeur de Lion at precisely 0300 hours, no sooner no later. Pick up civilian clothes on the way out and we'll sneak you to the boundary as night falls, understood?"
"Understood." He replied stoically, taking the stack of clothes from the staff officer and abruptly left the tent and headed for his own, the Lieutenant following him inside.
"You've helped the Resistance?" He asked curiously, shoulders tense.
The Captain pulled the simple cotton shirt over his head with an irritated sigh. "I was a diplomatic attaché in Marseilles before we declared war."
"And then you came back to fight them?"
"One thing living under occupation taught me is that I hate Nazis and collaborators. Now if you'll excuse me Lieutenant, I have to catch my ride…"
"No…wait!" exclaimed the Lieutenant awkwardly. "When you're there, can you keep an eye out for…"
"Your French girl?" He finished, eyebrows raised as the Lieutenant nodded shamefacedly. "What's her name?"
"Brigitte. 19th of August 1936, 1247 pm, that's when my train pulled out of St Clare, the last time I saw her face… We wrote one letter a week for three years but then the war started." He pulled out a frayed photograph and pushed it into his hands.
The Captain glanced down at the well thumbed photograph. Pretty girl but such romances led to trouble, he knew that from experience but he could also tell from the light in the man's face that it would be pointless to tell him to forget her. Almost as pointless as telling him to forget the woman who had given himself the experience. With a sigh he handed back the photograph. "No promises but I'll take a look." He put a brotherly hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Hey, St Clare is a small place for all we know you'll find her when we liberate it."
"I hope so. Good Luck Captain."
"I'll need it."
He lowered the jacket from around his head as he saw warm gold light reflect back on the huge rain puddles and glanced to the right of the street to look for the source. It was his destination, proudly announced on a gaudy red and gold sign, La Coeur de Lion. It looked poky and run down by his American standards but it was obviously packed, radiating light and warmth through its open door, the shadows of Nazi uniforms visible through the windows. An operative wanted to meet here? He once again checked the inside of his jacket for his pistol, still secure. It was just turning midnight, he'd better find a place to lay low… A sweet sound wafting from the restaurant made his heart flip over, no it couldn't be her! There were many women who could sing like that in France, he reasoned, and besides she was still in Marseilles no doubt still fulfilling her "assignment" with that scum Borges. He cursed his own sentimentality even as his ears strained to hear the notes and lyrics before smiling dryly, 'Moonlight Becomes You', she'd never liked that song much.
The last note vibrated in her throat and left her lips, the crowd going into mild applause as she stepped back from the microphone. "Merci." She said with that slight stage smile she had perfected over the years. "Please be kind to Carl, without his music my voice is empty." She continued, gesturing to her accompanist before stepping off the stage and retreating to the bar, taking a long sip of her customary glass of water before she became aware of a cold clammy hand on her forearm and its owner openly leering at her.
"Continue." She frowned at him with cold eyes. There was no way she was tolerating this.
"I am finished. Come back tomorrow." She stated icily, as forceful as him.
"No, now!" He snarled, his strangely strong hand beginning a slow crush of her arm.
The diminutive but commanding figure of Katrine glided over, a pacifying expression pasted over her features as she encouraged the man's hand to loosen its grip. "I'm sure Mademoiselle De Neuf would be happy to oblige us with another song." She remarked smoothly.
"No Madame…" De Neuf started through gritted teeth but Katrine frowned challengingly at her and she bit the words back, shooting Katrine a vicious glare through narrowed eyes before in a sharp click of heels she turned swiftly back to the stage.
"How'd we do?" asked Katrine asked De Neuf as she counted out the night's takings under the watchful eye of the bartender.
"Insufficient for a Saturday night. 1247 francs and 81 marks." She replied.
"It'll do, we need a new oscillator for the radio. I want you to go to Benoit's farm at dawn tomorrow and try and get one for three hundred francs, don't go any higher than five hundred."
De Neuf stared at her in disbelief. "For that I could purchase an armoured grenade launcher and take out some of those Panzer divisions which are keeping the Americans out!"
"What are you going to do, blow up a tank?" asked Katrine incredulously.
De Neuf didn't back down. "If necessary." She responded coldly.
"Do you want to blow our cover or be killed? I'm the leader of this cell and I implement the plans, is that clear?"
"Perfectly!" She spat out, turning her back on them, yanking the door to her little room backstage open and slamming it shut behind her.
The bartender who had observed all this commented, "This cannot keep happening. She is too argumentative, disrupting the whole operation."
"She's headstrong, the ones from the Underground are like that but we need her, she's the only munitions expert within a hundred miles and she can hold a tune."
"Be that as it may her behaviour is suspicious."
"Put a watch on her and if she is a spy we'll have to have her eliminated."
At those words De Neuf lifted her ear away from the door and stepped further into the small room. Living in a hot bed of Nazis and collaborators and they were worried about her, who had served longer in the Underground than either of them put together and had given up so much for it! Pulling a crate out from under her bed she removed the layer of sheet music it contained to reveal a small code machine the Underground in Marseilles had given her, if only the two outside knew she had been sent by members of the Underground who didn't believe in Katrine's form of "passive resistance." She found the tiny roll of paper with her most recent decryption and carefully unfurled it to reread the instructions, American, 0300 hours, side door. The words imprinted on her mind she put the paper to a candle and watched it burn before sitting tensely on her bed to wait.
Eventually she heard Katrine and the bartender retreat to their apartments upstairs and she silently left the confines of the room and entered the bar, taking the key for the side door from its hook on the wall before settling down on her favourite barstool, scanning her face for imperfections on the reflective surface of the counter as she did so. She wasn't sure why she had this drive for perfection, perhaps the habit had developed from having to hide the bruises inflicted during her last assignment. Brigitte didn't realise that she was fortunate in bedding the Nazi, at least he didn't beat her black and blue like Monsieur Borges, the French collaborator that had been her assignment had her. Still in a way it had been better, she wasn't exactly a team player and as long as she had submitted to his control and forgot herself and her fear and disgust it had been tolerable… Who was she kidding? The only thing that had made her life liveable had been Charles, made her remember that she wasn't only the Underground's puppet and Borges' plaything. He would have been horrified at such logic, he had told her frequently enough that she was institutionalised by violence…
The first chime of the clock as it struck three halted her fast flowing thoughts and picking up the key and her pistol from its hiding place behind the radiator she went to the door and unlocked it with a click, stepping back into the shadows with the gun poised at her side as it opened.
He pushed the door open gradually, edging in with his gun out in front of him, something moved in the shadows and without thinking he grabbed it just as a gas light flickered on. When he looked into the face of his captive the shock was like a kick to the stomach. "Annette?" He choked as a pair of shocked blue eyes met his. "What the hell are you doing here?"
De Neuf just stared blankly into his face for a moment, struggling to regain her wits but acting quick as lightening when she did, wrenching her arm away from him. "I should be asking that Charles! Why are you here? You went home!"
"And volunteered as soon to come back to free Europe as soon as I did."
She glared at him as the words sunk in. "That was reckless and idiotic of you." She said with icy sharpness.
He laughed bitterly. "What's the difference between us? You risk yourself for the Resistance every day!"
"I have no choice, no one can live freely until Europe is free of the scourge of Nazism." He almost smiled, she hadn't changed any, blowing hot and cold, detachedly rational and passionately determined at the same time. His mind flashed back to when he'd first met her, the mistress of the most Nazi loving diplomat in Marseilles, he hadn't understood at the time how such a woman could stoop to such a man. When he'd asked too much he'd become embroiled in with the Resistance but by that time he was too in love with the beautiful isolated shell of a woman who had introduced him to it to be able to free himself.
"My colonel wasn't joking when he said you were considered militant…" he began but Annette snapped, seizing a pad of paper covered in writing and throwing it at him.
"Here, take it and get out!" She hissed under her breath, turning her back on him entirely.
His whole tensed in anger. "Fine, push me away again, just answer one thing for me."
If he wasn't mistaken he saw her body start to shake. "What?" she whispered weakly.
"Why do you continue like this? It's like the woman I knew disappeared when she refused to get on that train and leave with me…when you went back to that bastard who treated you worse than an animal in exchange for paltry bits of information...was it worth any of it? Did you ever feel anything for me or were you acting again?" His voice became a shout strangled by heartbreak and anger. "What about our baby, did it ever exist or was it his?"
De Neuf whirled back round, her first urge to slap him dissolving into tears. "How can you say that to me? I did it for you! Borges found out who I was…said if I didn't send you away he'd kill you, American or not…I was then tortured by him until I miscarried and a doctor got me out of the house and back to the Underground…" She stared defiantly up at him with glistening eyes as he with grieving guilt filled dark eyes approached her but she stepped back. "I do all that to keep you alive and you willingly come back here to get yourself killed…" She sagged against the counter but he held her up, holding her against his chest as she sobbed outright.
"Shh, my love…I…I'm so sorry, forgive me…"
Driven by instinct and innumerable emotions she kissed him as she had done so many times, feeling relief wash over her as he responded.
A/n: Does this fic even make sense? Please review and be gentle.
New A/n: (25/10/13): I've re-edited this chapter and all later chapters to include line breaks.