Yesterday (20th August 2010) was the 70th Anniversary of Churchill's Battle of Britain Speech (For anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about seehere).
I really wanted to post some fic yesterday, but a combination of Real life and stubborn muses made that impossible. So, having finally sorted out muses, I post fic. I hope people like it.
Title: "Their finest hour"
Rating: PG 13
Summary: Spitfire's life after the war (well Spitfires help win the Battle of Britain, so it's kinda linked)
“Are you going to marry him?” she didn’t ask how Roger had heard about the proposal, didn’t ask what business it was of his, didn’t ask for his opinion, instead she reached for the next dish, rubbing it with a cloth.
“I asked him for time. Told him it was too soon after....to think anything like that.”
“But are you going to say yes?”
Unbidden, her mind wondered to the last time Roger had asked her a question like that. They had been in France, in some ramshackle little farmhouse, doing the dishes. He’d asked her if she thought she could go back to it when the war was over. To worrying about the season, the debutants balls and producing bonny babies.
At the time she’d joked that someone had to carry on the union Jack legacy, and that she couldn’t see Roger or Brian contributing to that, but looking back she wasn’t sure that she’d ever seriously thought about the end of the war.
It had taken so much from her. Her mother, Her father’s legs, for a long time, her brother.
She remembered hearing Bucky once saying that he didn’t think that the war would ever end, and laughing at him gently as a child.
Except Bucky hadn’t been a child.
Had any of them even actually about the end of the war, or was it the goal? The prize at the end of all their efforts, that they were all aiming towards, but never really thought about?
Now, in the silence of their kitchen, she let herself think about her answer to this one. Did she actually want to marry Critchon?
He was a good man, her father approved of him and she loved him. So why didn’t she say yes, immediately?
Alright, it wasn’t like Roger and Brian, but Roger and Brian had the love that Shakespeare wrote of, that St. Paul praised, that the priests spoke of when they read the marriage vows. Faithful unto the death.
She looked at Roger. That was certainly true. Roger was Brian’s, and it didn’t matter that Brian wasn’t here anymore. Thiers was the love that every woman at least dreamed of, and that very few would be lucky enough to find.
Critchon loved her. He would support her, give her children, take care of her; he would be an eminently suitable husband in every way. So why did it feel like she was settling?
Gently, almost tentatively, she felt Roger’s hand resting on her shoulder.
“If Brian were here,” He said, softly, the pain still audible in her voice. “He’d tell you to do what you felt like and to hell with what the rest of us think.”
She laugh slightly, as that was exactly what Brian would have said, and let Roger hug, wondering why it felt so much like a cage.
Roger had been the first person to hold Kenneth.
Later on, during the tests and with the AIDS panic raging outside, she had tried to blame him for the problems, that he had passed something on to her son by being homosexual. Even in her blackest moments, she had known that was a lie. While she didn’t believe Roger had been celibate in the years since her brother’s death, he had never been the type to go clubbing, even when he and Brian were together.
Beyond that, if he hadn’t come when he had, she and the baby would have died.
She had been all alone in the house. The reasons for that escaped her, but the baby had started to come, too soon, too early, too fast.
Crichton’s secretary told her he’d just stepped out for lunch, and her father was in London and would be no help.
She didn’t know how she knew that there was something wrong, something not right, here, but she knew an ambulance would do her no good.
Another contraction felt like it was trying to tear her in two, as her fingers fumbled for a number rarely dialled but never forgotten.
“Roger,” She couldn’t manage to get any more out, just a wordless, desperate scream. Dimly, she could hear Roger yelling at her to stay where she was, to stay with him, that she’d be with him in a minute.
She had no real memories of the drive to the hospital, just a flash of gripping Roger’s hands over the steering wheel as they neared the site of the accident. Roger had just shook his head, and kept his feet on the pedal.
He’d been wonderful at the hospital too, if terrorizing to the nurses. This was the sixties, it would be another decade before fathers were frequently present in the delivery room, and Roger’s admission that he was not a relative, but that he was not leaving her side, she was fairly certain would cause some raised eyebrows even now.
And when the doctor asked why there was a record of a blood transfusion, but no record of the donor, he’d been told. “National Security, mate, so mind your own business.”, before vanishing to track down whoever was still around of the Invaders as, “even that idiot can’t have given you blood without knowing what the consequences would be.”
And when the nurse had tried to persuade him to leave, gently pointing out how much blood there’d be, he replied. “I know that. Hardly the first baby I’ve seen been born.”
Five hours later, even with the knowledge that her father and Critchon were in the waiting room, it was that statement that her exhausted mind fixed on.
“What was the first baby you saw being born?”
Roger had been distracted, getting her ice chips, because he answered honestly. “Sixteen year old Jewish kid. Concentration camp survivor. Far too skinny to have even attempted it. She and baby died.” He apparently realised what he had just said, as he back pedalled quickly. “But that’s not going to be you, Jac. You’re going to have your baby and he’s going to be healthy and you’re not going to call him Brian.”
“Really?” they’d never discussed names, too suppositious to consider it. “What am I going to call him then Oohh!” another contraction and Roger began massaging her shoulders.
“Call him Steve, James, Thomas, Robert. Call him Kenneth if you want. Just not Brian.”
“Kenneth. Critchon.” She muttered, panting. “I like that.”
“Kenneth Falsworth Critchon.” Roger corrected her, ruffling her hair. “You’re the last of your line Jac, got to keep the family name going.”
The burst of laughter than engulfed her was apparently exactly what was need as three seconds later, the doctor was yelling, “I see the head,” as the midwife bustled over. “Shoulders, coming fast now isn’t he the little blighter?”
After ten hours of labour, Kenneth Daniel Falsworth Critchon, the first Falsworth to be born on the NHS, arrived. Roger brought him up to show her, babbling about everything and nothing, before he was snatched by the nurses, and Jac herself fell asleep.
When she woke up, her husband was sitting on one side of her bed, her father on the other and Kenneth lay in a crib at the bottom of the bed. There was a note from Roger propped up on the bedside table, telling her well done and not to expect it at the christening.
She was disappointed, though she wasn’t sure why.
That was Roger. You didn’t see him for years, but he was always there when you needed him.
“Mummy!” On days like this, Jac missed her mother. Missed someone who could reassure her that every new mother felt like this once in a while. When she asks is this it? Her mother would tell her to go and pick up her son and stop moping.
Except it isn’t once in a while, is it? Asks the voice that sounds strangely Roger.
Roger, who if she is completely honest, is the cause of her mood this morning.
His letter lies on the sideboard, the only communication she’s had with him since Kenneth’s birth.
She knows she hurt him, but it wasn’t his choice. She’d wanted him to be Kenneth’s godfather. She knew he’d be a good one. What did the rumours (or even the truth) of his sexuality matter?
But John hadn’t seen it that way.
It had been one of their few huge fights, normally she just went along with what he wanted, but this time she had fought back.
But in the end she had given in. A cousin stood as godfather, and Roger, as his note had predicted did not attend and she had been glad.
She thought of the letter, with its references to old friends, to its big plan.
“Never again, Jac, we all said that. Never again will the world know that power and that fear. We can stop it.”
She read the list of names he recruited, Gwenny Lou, Davey, Elizabeth, all people she knew and cared about once. She pauses passing the mirror to look in the glass.
Her powers are fading. She knows that, she feels it every passing year. She also knows that isn’t the reason she’s going to turn Roger down, again.
She can’t face them. Can’t let them see her like this. A woman in a marriage with a man who doesn’t know her, a mother who abandoned all they fought for.
Spitfire, but with the fire gone.
“Mummy!” Kenneth’s voice rises again and she answers “Coming sweetheart.”
She tips the letter into the bin.
She spins around at the sound of the only person left who still calls her that. To everyone else, she’s Jacqueline or Mum or Lady Falsworth or Lady Critchon, but to Roger she’ll always be Jac.
“I didn’t think you’d come.” She muttered, leaning into the offered hug and breathing in the scent of the man who had healed her first broken heart, of the man who’d been there when her son was born, the man who her father and her husband had insulted and all but forced out of her life.
“No matter what issues, I had with the old bastard, I always respected him.”
She leant in, tears running down her cheek and messing up his jacket.
“I’m sorry.” She muttered.
Roger snorted. “Your father just died. Think you’re allowed to break down on an old friend’s shoulder, Jac_”
He trailed off, and she knew instinctively what he’d seen.
Joey, in that costume. She could feel the anger rising up through him, the fury threatening to engulf him, especially as she knew he’d have seen Kenneth as he came in, that Lord Falsworth would give the costume to a stranger, but not to the man his son gave his heart to.
“Roger.” She began, as he shoved her away and began walking out the church.
She knows, how she doesn’t know, but she knows that this is the last straw. That this time he’s not coming back. That if, when, they meet again, it will be on his terms. Not hers.
She’s standing outside the door of an address that she’s had for nearly fifty years, but never used until today.
Their last meeting was hardly cordial, but with everything that happened, with Jim’s funeral, she needs to talk to someone.
Someone who knew her back then, but is far enough away not to question. Roger is pretty much the only candidate left.
She doesn’t’ doubt that he knows she’s here. That he’s being waiting for her to ring the bell. Once he would have come down to meet her, but after everything that’s happened, she has no right to ask that.
Slowly, she swallows her pride and rings the bell.
The door opened immediately.
“Bloody took you long enough.” He held it open, and she followed him up into his rooms. Rooms he’d once shared with Brian and still held traces of the other man.
“I wanted to...to talk to you.”
“Bout you and Junior Jack.” She glared at him.
“His name is Joseph.”
A shrug, as Roger lowered himself into his chair. “Why me?”
Humiliating, eating humble pie like this, yet she knew what she had to do. “Because you’re the only one who I can.”
Roger smiled. “I guess,” She paused, “What I want to know is why? I mean I never looked that way at Joey when he was Kenneth’s friend, I’m not Mrs Robinson.”
“Could have passed as Eleanor Roosevelt. Back in teh day.”
She glared at him. “You know what I mean.”
“And I don’t get what you want me to say!” Roger snapped. “Do you want me to say that what you nearly had with Hammond invalidates what you felt for Junior? For Critchon?”
She shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Well it doesn’t.” Roger’s hand hit the sideboard. “Jac there’s nearly 6 billion people out there. Do I believe that there’s one person out there who’s perfect for them? Yes of course. But the odds of meeting them are astronomical. SO what do you do? You change; you find what does fit, mostly. And as you change, you may find that they change with you. Or they change and you don’t.” He shook his head. “Not saying I approve of what you and Junior had, mind you. Just that I understand it.”
Roger shrugged. “You were both hurting; you needed someone who understood this.” He paused, looking at her. “Neither of the other men in your life ever did, really did they?”
She dropped her gaze. It was true, Critchon had seen it like nursing, or knitting comforts for the troops, or something like that, something done out of necessarily and that she could fold and put back in the box as easily, and Kenneth...had he ever even grasp what they were talking about?
“It’s what I wanted.” She muttered. “After Brian... I don’t think I ever wanted to be.”
She realised he was smiling.
“You wanted hide. I don’t blame you, lord only knows I considered it often enough. Just hide and pretend you’d never seen what they could do. It’s what you did, it’s what Toro did, It’s what I suspect Bucky would have done given half a chance. You were too young and_”
“I was 18.”
“Barely.” He shrugged. “Critchon was a good guy. He made you feel safe.” There was a pause, before he added, “On a level, it’s the same reason you got involved with Chapman.”
She laughed. “I felt safe being involved with Union Jack?!”
“Not exactly.” Roger shrugged. “But you weren’t unsafe either. The kid’s good, but if you ever tell him that...”
“You’ll kill me and make sure they never hide the body.”
Roger shrugged, unashamed. “Learnt a couple of tricks from Hitler’s goons.” He sighed. “He was a connection with that life, when you had danger, responsibility; he was you trying to get your life back after decades of being a mother, then a carer. And you felt responsible for him.” He shrugged. “Was never going to work, but I get it.”
Jac sat down, pulling at threads in her jumper. “Did you know he was married? Jim, I mean.”
Roger’s face contracted and he silently cursed himself for retiring. “Yes. To Anne Thomas,” He paused, biting down on lip. “Previously Anne Raymond.”
Roger shrugged. “Keeping it in the family. Maybe she had a thing for hot guys.” He laughed, slightly at his own joke.
“That’s just...oooh.” he laughed, seeing his friend’s younger sister for a moment.
“Any weirder than Cap being involved with his girlfriend’s niece?”
Jac face screwed up further. “Was Namor the only one of us who was vaguely sexually normal?”
Roger shrugged. “Lusting after a married woman?”
He leant over and hugged her. “War screwed us all up Jac. More than any of us realised.”
“Yet they all still look to us.” There was a bitter note in her voice, and he cursed Thin Man with all his breath. Dam it, why did the guy have to reopen wounds best left closed?
“Yeah.” He said, softly. “Because we were the first.”
He paused. “Never was so much owed by so many to so few, Jac. That’s us, as much as it was them. And you know what that means?”
She shrugged, wiping slightly at her eyes. “We will never surrender.”
“Right.” He sighed. “Critchon wanted to clip your wings. Junior Jack wanted you to fly. The guy who’ll let you fly, but keep you grounded, he’s out there somewhere.” He shrugged. “Just got to find him.”
She nodded, slowly.
“Just do me a favour. Stay away from Vampires.” He shook his head. “Think that’s one thing I couldn’t explain to Bri.”
She laughed then, the first honest laugh she felt she could remember since the Invaders disbanded.
Author's notes: I always wanted to explore how we get from the Spitfire we see in The Invaders, to the Woman Cap meets when the war is over and back to the Spitfire who currently runs around with Union Jack III. My muse did the rest. I'm sorry for anyone who likes the romance with Blade, but I hate Spitfire being half vampire. Makes No sense to me. There's two quote from Churchill Speeches in this fic. Vitural cookie to the first person who gets them. No using google, you have to recognise them on your own.
Oh and let's face it, all the Invaders sex lives are slightly screwy.