Quick Notes/Warnings: (spoilers abound!)
1. This starts in August 1914, 25 months or so after Booker and Elizabeth escaped Columbia. If you're not familiar with World War I history, I recommend at least reading about the First Battle of the Marne, especially the role taxis played in the Allies winning. That's where this fictional dimension will split off from "canon" (our history). However, I think the story can still be enjoyed without knowing much about it. Up to you!
2. If you haven't read the first two parts of this series, I highly recommend doing that first. They're located on Ao3 due to fanfiction dot net's ridiculous rule forbidding 2nd person POV. I don't feel like rehashing how Booker and Elizabeth went from awkward lovers to awkward parent/child to awkward married couple, lol, but I'm happy to send you a link if you're interested. This is not one of those AU fics where it turns out they're not related. In this story, Booker and Elizabeth have a complicated, semi-functional, but very loving relationship, and I hope I've done it justice. If incest is not your cup of tea, no need to leave a nasty comment- just hit the back button. Practically every other Booker/Elizabeth fic on here is based in an un-incestuous AU, so just read one of those rather than bashing this fic. Please and thank you!
3. I studied French for several years in university, but it's been a while. If you notice any mistakes in my French or English, or if you'd like to beta any French phrases I run into, please let me know! Also, don't worry if you don't know a single word of French- I've only used it in a handful of places to strengthen the connection between reader and (non-French-speaking) protagonist, since chances are neither of you are fluent. Additionally, the context will provide everything you need to know, so it shouldn't be frustrating. :)
Thanks for reading! Enjoy.
Elizabeth should have been enjoying the bright Paris summer like other girls her age: shopping, dancing, sunbathing naked on the roof. Instead, she spent her August reading all the papers and worrying about the war. Just about every night, she trotted along next to Booker, regurgitating the propaganda she'd read that day, while he did his safety patrol through the halls of her brothel.
"Did you read the paper today, Booker?"
"Yep." He checked a window to make sure it was locked. "Taxi drivers are still on strike. Guess we'll have to keep taking the bus, huh?"
"Be serious, Booker." She crossed her arms. "The Germans are getting closer every day. Did you read about Leuven? They executed over two-hundred people, and they burned down so many buildings people are still counting."
"Glad I don't live in Leuven," Booker joked. He wished she'd stop reminding him about the lurking danger at all hours of the night and day. He was already well aware of it.
"Booker!" Her nostrils flared. "This is not funny! Who knows how many women they're raping and mutilating as we speak? They're taking many of them back to Germany for 'hard labor.' What if the Triple Entente bombs Germany and those poor people are the ones standing out in the fields?"
Booker pressed his ear to a door, listened for a second, and then continued walking. "Then that'll be a damn shame. But that's in Belgium-"
"And it will be in France, too!" Elizabeth made an exasperated noise. "The Germans aren't even at war with Belgium! Belgium is as neutral as the U.S., they just happen to be standing between us and the Germans. What'll happen when the Germans get their hands on the people they actually hate?"
"Hate? They're not invading other countries because they hate them. It's not personal like that."
Elizabeth put her hands on her hips. "Oh really? Then why are they murdering and raping so many people if they don't hate them?"
"I don't know." Booker fiddled with a loose doorknob to keep from having to think too hard about his own past. "Folks in charge get some crazy, power-hungry idea in their head, and they stir up the folks down below 'til the whole group gets caught up in a frenzy. It's like a cattle stampede."
By the time he said the last word, they'd reached their bedroom door. Elizabeth pushed open the door and immediately threw her silk robe over the bench in front of her vanity. Jack, her Pit Bull guardian, hopped up off his cushion on the floor and sniffed the back of Elizabeth's hand, his tail wagging. He licked her knuckles, and she scratched him behind the ears without looking at him.
"You never answered my question," Elizabeth said. "What will happen to us when the Germans get their hands on us?"
"We're Americans," Booker said. "They'd send us home."
"You know they wouldn't." She sat down at her vanity. "They didn't do that to the American family in Leuven. It was in the paper today. He was a reporter, there on business. The Germans raped his wife, burned down his house, and then shot all four of them-even the children- in the heads."
"That's not gonna happen to us."
Elizabeth loosened the pins holding her hair in the chignon bun at her neck, and her creased brown locks tumbled down her back. "Even you couldn't take on a whole army at once, Booker." She dragged the comb through her tangles. "If the Germans take Paris, we're as good as dead."
He sighed. "Look, if they get even a little bit close, I plan on tossing you into a suitcase and sticking you on the next train to New York."
"I think there might be some logistical problems with that plan," she said.
"Yeah, I'd have to stick some padding in the suitcase first to keep you from getting tossed around all that extra room," he teased. "Maybe I'll stick Jack in there too, so you have some company. But my point is, you're gonna be gone the second the Germans get close, whether you feel like getting gone or not. I don't care if I have to drug your tea. I want you safe."
She used the mirror's reflection to give him that look, the one she put on whenever he suggested something really stupid and offensive, like that time he suggested she save money on her huge dinners by adding stray cat meat and calling it the "Chinaman Special." "If you do that, I will never, ever forgive you, Booker. I'm not a child."
Bloodwise, she was his child, if not a child. But since the two of them had agreed nearly two years ago that memory trumped blood, Booker decided not to mention that. Trying to play his paternity like an ace would probably end in divorce.
"I don't care," he said. "I'm not gonna let the Germans do anything to you, and if I can't take all of them in a fight, then I can take you in a boat."
Elizabeth stabbed at her tangles with the comb so hard it sounded like ripping. "I mean it, Booker. If you kidnap me away from my business and the women who rely on me for safety, I will hate you for the rest of my life."
"Yeah, but you'll have a nice, long, hopefully rape-less life to hate me, so I think I can make peace with that."
She slammed the comb down on the vanity. "If you're going to make all my choices for me, then I might as well still be locked up on Monument Island! You had the chance to be my father, and you turned the job down. Twice. Orphan Girl will decide her own fate, thank you very much." With that, she threw herself into bed and pulled the blanket up to her ears.
Jack ran over and barked twice up at Booker.
"Hey, don't bark at me, you mutt," Booker said. "Ain't no one else gonna feed you scraps and throw your rubber ball around the yard."
Jack gave one more half-hearted bark before jumping onto the bed. He turned in a circle three times before lying down in the corner Elizabeth's feet never quite managed to reach. Elizabeth rolled onto her stomach, keeping her face pointed toward the wall opposite Booker.
Jack, on the other hand stared right at him. In Booker's mind, he could all but hear the damn dog saying, "Hey, Stupid. You upset my human. Fix it and make her happy again, or I will shit in your shoe while you sleep."
"Look, Elizabeth, it doesn't matter." Booker stripped down to his underwear and slipped into the sheets. The bed was already too warm from Elizabeth's body heat. He pulled her against him and kissed her shoulder anyway. "There's no point in fighting over it. Paris is too well-loved for anyone to let it fall. Even the United States would come defend us if it came down to it."
"Really?" She rolled onto her other side and stared at him. "Because I have a really bad feeling about all of this."
"And I have a feeling you're gonna sweat to death if you keep that nightshirt on in this heat." He pulled the offending fabric up her stomach. "Come on, take it off, and I'll make you glad you did."
"I know what you're up to," she said, but she took her nightshirt off anyway. "We're about to go to war and all you can think about is sex."
"Sex and food," he corrected her.
"Sex and food." She tucked her hands under her head, exposing her perfect little breasts to the cooler air. "Men are such animals. No wonder we're at war."
"Hey now." He cupped the breast closest to him and traced his tongue over the soft nipple. "That's just plain hurtful. And hurtful girls don't get their pussies licked."
"Such vulgar language, Mr. DeWitt!" She smirked and grabbed his hair. "And of course we get our pussies licked, because men like you can't get enough of them. In fact, I think you're the most enthusiastic when I'm extra-hurtful."
That much was true. As a result, when Booker finally stretched out to sleep, it was with a crick forming in his neck, ten long scratches scabbing over on his back, and a blissful wife smiling into his shoulder. Her damp, loose hair and her pink skin made her look more damn beautiful (if also more vulnerable) than ever. He could kinda see why someone would want to lock her up in a tower.
"If we're going to die soon, we need to have more sex like that," she said.
"We're not gonna die soon," he said, touching two fingers to her curved bottom lip. "I promise, Elizabeth, I will keep you safe no matter what."
He should have known better than to make promises he couldn't keep.