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Repost FIC: Safe Passage (PG)

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  • Jengrrrl
    Title: Safe Passage Series: All Aboard Rated: PG Disclaimer: Not mine Summary: This is an AU (alternate universe) or Elseworld fic; see story for setting. LOL.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2001
      Title: Safe Passage
      Series: All Aboard
      Rated: PG
      Disclaimer: Not mine
      Summary: This is an AU (alternate universe) or Elseworld fic; see story for
      setting. LOL.
      Category: Action/Adventure, Romance
      Archive: List sites, and Disquieting Muses www.geocities.com/jengrrrl2000
      Otherwise, please ask.
      Thanks to: Donna, Nancy, Diebin - for looking and chatting and being all
      around great girls
      Special Thanks to: My dvd player. Nuf said
      Author's Note: It's been so long, I figured I'd better repost this so you
      all knew what was happening in the new part. :)

      November 11, 1922, Orient Express Sleeping Car 3309, some miles outside
      Vienna, Austria

      The snow-covered trees stared back at her, like so many ghosts, pale and
      gaunt in the thrall of winter. Mississippi would be warmer than this.
      Anything would be warmer than this.

      Marie Darkholme was tired of staying in her sleeping carriage. She was
      tired of looking at a blanket of white covering the window. And, more
      importantly, she was tired of listening to her stepmother drone on and on
      about what a fabulous time she was having.

      The constant click clack and the gentle rocking of the train were making
      her drowsy. Her lids drooped heavily but through them she still caught
      Raven shoveling through her trunk like a dog digging up a bone.

      �Oh, isn�t this just marvelous! I love the service here. Do you know, I
      asked for my heel to be repaired not two hours ago and here it is? Darling,

      this is magnificent. What do you think I should wear to dinner tonight?�
      She held up two nearly identical black evening gowns. Two gowns that were
      bought in Paris for more money than it cost her father to buy ten suits.

      Marie watched in bemusement as her father was cornered into making a
      decision he�d come to regret. It was always the same. Ever since marrying
      Raven, her father had lost any semblance of a backbone. Their miserable
      journey to Europe had been Raven�s idea. The ride on the Orient Express had

      been a must: �Oh, anybody who�s anybody rides it, darling!� Marie sighed
      and tried to ignore the plaintiff whining of her stepmother.

      �I, I don�t know, sweetheart. I think they�d both look absolutely
      fabulous,� Marie�s father stammered.

      Marie would�ve been surprised if Raven�s groan hadn�t been heard throughout

      the car. �Sometimes I wonder why I even bother asking you at all, Robert.

      Robert Darkholme merely looked on wearily, mustache and shoulders sagging
      under the weight of his wife�s displeasure.

      �Wear the black one, Raven,� drawled Marie, entertained for the first time
      in a week.

      �Thank you, Marie,� Raven ground out, eyes glowing an unearthly green. �You

      are always such a help.�

      Marie rolled her eyes, but promptly shut her mouth. Raven had more
      personalities than she could count, and she didn�t want to be on the
      receiving end of anything one of the less pleasant ones had to dole out. In

      two days they would reach Constantinople. If she could avoid any
      confrontation before then, Marie would consider it a small victory.

      �How long before we reach Vienna, Father?�

      �Twenty minutes, I think. Why?�

      �No reason.� Her reason, of course, was that the walls of the compartment
      were starting to close in on her. Maybe in Vienna, she�d be able to get
      some fresh air. If only it wasn�t snowing�

      As if reading her mind, her father suddenly said, �Why don�t you go out to

      the smoking car, Marie? Distract yourself some.�

      �I think I will, Father. Thank you.� She rose from her seat, grabbed a
      book, and exited the compartment, clearly avoiding any contact with her


      �Bon jour, mademoiselle.�

      The melodious voice startled Marie into looking up from her novel. The
      young man�s attire revealed him to be a Wagons-Lit employee, a condoctuer,
      although she�d never seen him before. �Bon jour,� she replied tentatively.

      �Bon romance?� A rakish smile crossed the man�s lips and Marie suddenly
      felt uncomfortable with the situation.

      She got up from her seat and tried to move past him. �Excusez-mois.�

      �Non! Pardon. Je m�appelle Remy. Et vous?�

      Well, he certainly was forward, she thought. Still, he didn�t seem
      dangerous. Marie�s basic French was enough to recognize his introduction.

      �Enchantee, Marie.�

      She didn�t offer him her hand, but he took it anyway. When he began
      raising it to his lips, she pulled back, distressed by how quickly he�d
      violated her space. �Enough,� she said, exasperated. �I don�t speak French
      so you�ll just have to leave me alone.�

      The conductuer stepped back, slightly abashed. �Ah, I apologize. I didn�t
      recognize your accent. You are American?�

      �Yes.� The man has very little work to do if he�s able to stand around all
      day chatting with passengers, thought Marie. He seemed friendly enough, but

      there remained an air of superiority about him that didn�t sit well with
      her. He didn�t seem like the type to take orders from anyone.

      �I am sorry if I disturbed you, miss. I thought you looked a bit lonesome
      sitting here and��

      �I wasn�t,� she interrupted. �And I hope you don�t think me rude if I ask
      you to leave.�

      �Of course not miss,� he responded easily. �Please, enjoy the rest of your
      trip.� He bowed slightly and turned toward the other end of the car.


      �You were right, monsieur. She is quite cool. Frigid, non? It is not a
      wonder they call her �untouchable�. Were did you learn of this?�

      �Her stepmother talks to anything that moves. She�s quite loose with her
      information. Comes in handy.�

      The younger man nodded. �I should say so.� Then in a conspiratorial hush,
      �When do you plan to make your move?�

      �Soon. After Vienna perhaps, or I may wait until Bucharest. Certainly
      before reaching the Turkish border. This train will not reach
      Constantinople, my friend. Not with that girl still on it.�

      �The father will not be a problem?�

      The tall, lean man gazed at his younger companion and smiled. �His idiocy
      is my biggest asset. I foresee no difficulties.� He chuckled slightly.
      �And, as you well know, the chef du train is even more incompetent. Who is
      there to stop us?�

      �No one, I assure you.� The conducteur reached into his vest pocket and
      pulled out a key. �This will serve us well, n�est-ce pas?�

      Taking the object, the man responded, �Yes, it certainly will.� He placed
      an amiable hand on the French man�s shoulder. �You�re even more useful than

      I anticipated Monsieur LeBeau.�

      LeBeau smirked as he began rolling a cigarette. �I expect to be rewarded

      �Of course you do.�


      The train began to slow and Marie saw the Vienna station coming into view.

      It was still snowing, but not as heavily as before. This gave her the
      opportunity to go out onto the platform, a welcome relief from the
      stuffiness of the train.

      She walked to her compartment and grabbed an overcoat, preparing herself
      for the chill outdoors. As soon as the train made a complete stop and she
      heard a conducteur give the call, she stepped into the Austrian night.

      The platform was covered, protected from the snow, but the harsh wind hit
      her hard. Her exposed face became stiff from the cold. She watched as
      several other passengers made their way out, joining her on the platform
      even as others made their way onto the train for the first time. A couple
      huddled together, speaking rapidly in German and rubbing their hands
      together vigorously. It made her glad she�d remembered to wear her gloves.

      Marie continued staring at the couple, interested by their animated
      conversation. They didn�t seem Austrian; their German was fractured and she

      could hear it was not their native tongue. The man wore funny spectacles:
      not round and wired rimmed, but pulled back around his head. His
      well-tailored suit suggested wealth and good taste. His companion was an
      attractive woman and, from their closeness, Marie inferred they were

      She must have lost track of time because, before she knew it, Marie heard
      the boarding call: �En voiture, s�ils vous plait!�

      As she was turning towards the train, she saw the couple joined by two men
      and a station attendant. One man, who appeared to be an officer, although
      Marie did not recognize his uniform, was lifting the other, older and wheel

      chair bound. Marie was so impressed by how easily the officer carried the
      man that she was surprised when they were suddenly standing right beside
      her. She blinked and heard a gruff, �Excuse us� before gathering herself
      and letting them by.

      She followed the group inside and was suddenly warmed by the heat generated

      by the train.

      A curiosity fueled by boredom propelled her to follow them past her own
      compartment. They traveled a bit further down the car before splitting
      into two groups: the young couple heading into one compartment, the officer

      and the invalid into the one across the way.

      She watched them disappear before reluctantly heading back.


      �Marie, there are so many handsome young men on board, don�t you think?�


      �Hush, Robert. I wasn�t talking to you. Well, Marie? Has anyone caught your


      Marie took her time chewing the piece of chicken in her mouth. Dinner was
      always like this. Raven never failed to find a way to make her food taste
      like paper.

      Pushing her plate aside, Marie took her napkin and wiped her mouth. �No,
      Raven,� she replied slowly. �No handsome young man has caught my eye.�

      Raven took a sip of her wine. �Well, dear, I certainly hope it�s not
      because of that incident with David.�

      A strained smile formed on Marie�s face. �Of course not, Raven.�

      ��Because, you know, no young man is worth so much heartache. While it�s
      true he preferred that hussy from Selma, that�s no reason for you to feel
      badly. No, indeed.� Marie watched as Raven began playing with her wedding
      ring: an ostentatious affair with a large diamond attached. �You haven�t
      had another beau since have you?�

      �Would you like more dessert, darling?� Robert Darkholme quickly

      �No. Now, Robert, quit interrupting me!�

      Marie tuned the couple out as they began arguing. Right on schedule, she
      thought. She was about to excuse herself when she noticed the group that
      boarded in Vienna enter the dining car.

      It was the young couple. They had both changed and were looking quite
      refreshed, although he was still wearing his silly-looking spectacles. It
      always amazed Marie to encounter couples so at ease with each other, so
      perfectly content. Her mother had died when she was very young and Marie
      had never really had a chance to see that interaction between her parents.

      Her father married Raven when she was twelve. Their marriage was turbulent,

      at best. Robert Darkholme tried making the best of the situation, for he
      certainly loved his wife � or lusted after her, thought Marie. She was
      young � much younger than he � and extremely good-looking. Something she
      used to her complete advantage. In any case, Raven controlled everything;
      easiness and contentment were not words used to describe that relationship.

      She watched as they looked over the menu for the night and spoke to the
      attendant. Straining to hear, she realized they were speaking English,
      their accents most assuredly American. Marie wondered vaguely why the
      officer had not joined them. Perhaps he was spending his evening with the
      other man, who would be unable to leave their compartment. Was the older
      man his father? They didn�t really look alike. The officer was dark and
      ruddy. There was something unkempt about his appearance. His hair was
      longer than it should have been and he had a fair amount of growth on his
      face. In contrast, the older man was well groomed: his suit was neatly
      pressed and he definitely shaved more regularly than his companion. His
      scalp had been completely devoid of hair and Marie considered whether he
      shaved that as well.

      The attendant had left them and the couple was left to converse alone.
      Marie knew it was rude, but she leaned closer to hear what they were

      �Charles was tipped off. He�s not sure when it�s going to happen but it has

      to happen soon. Lensherr is just about out of money. He needs to pull off
      this job if he�s going to finance his scheme.�

      The woman sighed and looked around the car. Marie averted her gaze but
      continued listening.

      �I just don�t think it makes sense, Scott. A train? Certainly there would
      have been easier targets. Whatever Eric has planned, it has to take place
      in Constantinople.�

      The man, Scott, had removed his glasses and was cleaning the lenses with a
      fine cloth. Marie noticed his eyes were a beautiful shade of blue, quite
      unlike any she�d seen before. She wondered why he had to ruin his handsome

      face by wearing such strangely made spectacles. �I know it sounds strange,
      Jean,� he said. �But all we have to go by is the professor�s contact. And
      they�re usually very reliable.�

      Jean simply shook her head, but seemed content to drop that topic of
      conversation. The next thing she said was, �How do you think Charles is
      getting along with the new man?�

      An indecorous snort escaped the young man�s lips. �I haven�t had a chance
      to talk to him alone yet. His guard is on him all day long.� He paused as
      the attendant returned, this time bearing a bottle of champagne. The amber

      liquid was poured into two glasses and the waiter retreated. When he was
      out of range, Scott continued, �There�s something about that man that
      strikes me odd. The professor trusts him with his life, yet we hardly know

      Marie watched Jean sip her champagne carefully. She seemed to be avoiding
      her companion�s gaze. Finally, she put the glass back on the table and
      shrugged. �I don�t know, Scott. Charles told me they had an understanding,

      but that�s all he would say.�

      �And he�s so guarded,� Scott interjected. �It�s impossible to get a word
      out of him.� His demeanor shifted; his back straightened and he put his
      spectacles back on. �I don�t like the way he looks at you.�

      Reaching out, Jean took his hand in hers. Marie felt the sudden urge to
      look away; such gestures were beyond her scope of comprehension. �You have
      nothing to worry about,� she heard Jean say.

      Visibly relaxed by her touch, Scott leaned back in his seat. �It�s not you
      I�m worried about,� he replied easily.

      �He�s harmless,� she countered.

      �Harmless?� Scott leaned forward and took a large drink from his glass.
      �Harmless is not a word I would use to describe that man.�

      �Marie? Marie! Are you listening to me?� The shrill voice drowned out any
      other sound and Marie was forced to look back at its owner.

      �I�m sorry, what?�

      Robert spoke for his wife, who looked too infuriated to do anything but
      seethe. �I�m taking Raven back to our compartment, Marie. She has a
      headache. Will you be coming back with us?�

      The possibility of having any contact at all with the trembling body of
      rage sitting next to her father gave Marie pause. She might have been
      willing to go back to her compartment alone, but if they were leaving
      perhaps she�d stay a while longer. It was possible she�d even regain her
      appetite without Raven there to ruin it.

      �I think I�ll stay a while longer.�

      Her father nodded and stood up. He reached out to help his wife stand, but
      the angry woman was already on her feet and headed out the compartment.
      �I�m sorry, Father,� Marie whispered.

      Robert looked down at her but said nothing. Instead, he slowly followed
      Raven out of the dining car.


      Marie sat in the smoking car alone, realizing that this had become a habit
      for her.

      The rest of dinner had been uneventful. She had eaten what remained on her
      plate, thankful for Raven�s premature departure. The young couple, Scott
      and Jean, had ceased all conversation on arrival of their meal. All she�d
      been able to do was watch as they ate in perfectly calm silence.

      Remembering the events of that afternoon, Marie thought of the young French

      condocteur who�d spoken so freshly to her. It seemed odd to her now, that
      she never had seen him before that. At first, it had seemed fairly
      coincidental. After all, the train was fairly large. However, all of the
      other condocteurs could be spotted regularly making their rounds.

      And what had Jean and Scott been discussing? They apparently thought
      something was about to happen on the train; what exactly, Marie didn�t
      know. Still, it intrigued her that they should be so aware of any eminent
      danger, when the chef du train and all the condocteurs had no clue. For if
      they did, they would stop the train, wouldn�t they?

      Marie chewed her upper lip, trying to piece together what they�d been
      saying about the men they�d arrived with. The older gentleman, Scott had
      referred to as a professor. What sort of professor wondered Marie, idly
      concerned that she was spending her time building terrific conjectures.

      It seemed strange to her, the way they regarded the other man, the officer.

      Scott especially seemed rather hostile. Marie smiled to herself. Of
      course, he would be, seeing as the man had been looking at his wife. And
      Jean had blown the whole affair aside, saying that the officer was
      harmless. Marie had to agree with Scott. One look at that man had told her
      he was definitely not harmless.

      The scent of cigar smoke wafted across the car. Marie looked up to find the

      object of her thoughts sitting across the way, legs lazily splayed before
      him. He held a newspaper before him, and a cigar was wedged firmly between

      his lips. He was in civilian clothes now. The pants fit him nicely, Marie
      thought, even though they weren�t as well tailored as Scott�s or the
      professor he protected.

      Indeed, Marie had to admire the way his clothes hung off his physique. She

      thought about how carefully made her father�s clothing was, and how it
      never looked quite right: his small belly protruded outward or his
      shoulders sagged. Her father was not an unattractive man, but the years and

      Raven had worn him down. The man sitting before her obviously had no such
      worries bearing on him. No, he seemed to be in his absolute prime.

      She had been staring, she realized when he looked up from his paper and
      frowned. Instinctively, his head turned towards her and she had to quickly

      avert her gaze. It hadn�t been quickly enough, for she had found herself
      caught. She could feel his eyes on her. Feigning indifference, she began
      to play with the cuff of her blouse. She turned her head slightly and gave
      him a sidelong glance, but he had apparently lost interest and returned to
      his reading.

      While flirting with a stranger had once held it's charm, Marie now found it

      distasteful. Besides, it wasn't as if this particular stranger was paying
      any attention.

      Suddenly quite tired, Marie decided to retire to her compartment.

      She looked once more toward the officer - who was still quite content at
      looking at his newspaper - and walked out of the smoking car. Before she
      reached the next door of the car, she felt a big hand close around her
      waist. Another closed around her mouth, muffling her scream.

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