The Weakness in Me 1/4

The Weakness in Me
Written November 2001
Rated PG-13
Synopsis: What’s the history of the Paul/Madeline/Charles Sand triangle? Here’s one version, also shedding light on “In Between,” “Adrian’s Garden,” and “End Game.”¬† Takes place approximately ten years before “Adrian’s Garden.”

Disclaimer: The characters within are property of LFN Productions, Warner Bros., and USA Network. No infringement is intended.


He knew something was wrong when she knocked. She had a key and would always let herself in, so he was surprised to see her on the other side of the door, waiting patiently. And when she avoided his hello kiss, his fears were confirmed. “What happened?”

Madeline walked past him, collecting her thoughts. She pressed her fingers together then clenched her fists at her sides before turning to face him. “Charles asked me to marry him.”

Paul almost laughed. Charles Sand, the stiff Brit, was favored heavily by Adrian but much less by other operatives. Actually, it had been Adrian who had introduced Charles and Madeline last year. He held a higher position than both him or Madeline, but Paul wasn’t jealous. He had won Madeline’s affections long before Charles had taken an interest in her. “Oh, really?” He chuckled, trying to imagine the man proposing marriage. “What did you tell him?”

She hesitated, taking a breath. “I told him yes.”

His heart sunk to the pit of his stomach, and he suddenly felt sick. “You did what?”

“He’s Adrian’s pet, and you know that she doesn’t like either one of us, mostly me. If I marry him, maybe I’ll get on her good side and get promoted to chief strategist.” As she spoke, Paul continuously shook his head, and she sighed. “Oh, don’t be so selfish!”

I’m selfish? Did it ever occur to you to ask me how I felt about all of this? What happened to us?”

“What do you mean, us?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips. “Yes, we occasionally spend time together, but I warned you at the start about mixing work with a personal relationship.”

He looked as if he had just been slapped across the face. Was she blind to his feelings, the way he smiled whenever she was around? He had been so certain that she had felt the same. And now this? “Isn’t that what you’re doing with Charles? Madeline, you barely know the guy! You’ve had dinner with him maybe twice, and all the sudden, he’s proposing and you’re accepting? Something’s not right!”

She heaved a sigh. “I didn’t come here to fight, and I didn’t come here for your blessing. I was on my way home to pack, and I thought you’d like to know before you heard from someone else.” The anger on his face was evident, and she took a breath. “If you were in my position and you were given the chance to improve your situation, you’d do the same. I would want you to do the same.”

He tilted his head in surprise. “Don’t you know by now that if I had to choose between you and a promotion, I would choose you?”

She opened her mouth to protest but knew he was being truthful. If there was any other way… “I’m sorry, Paul, but I have to go.” She started for the door.

“Madeline, wait.” He grabbed her arm, and she stopped. Arguing would get him nowhere, and he knew it. “I’m sorry. You caught me off guard. This isn’t exactly what I was expecting when you showed up.”

She nodded and turned back to him. “I know.”

Neither spoke for a while, holding a gaze that said more than words ever could. “Uh, you said you were on your way home to pack?”

“We’re flying to Italy for the ceremony. We’ll be back the day after tomorrow.”

“Wait, wait. You’re getting married tonight?”

“Yes.”

Paul stared at her, wide-eyed. “Aren’t you rushing things a bit?”

“He proposed last week. I finally gave him an answer.”

He took a quick, sharp breath. “You’ve known for a week, and you’re just telling me now?” She didn’t answer. “Am I even invited to the wedding?”

“Would you have come without jumping up to protest?”

“No.”

She smiled slightly. “Well, I can’t have you interfering on my big day.” He didn’t return the gaze, and she nodded. “I need to go. I’ll see you in a few days.”

He watched her hand as it began to turn the doorknob, and his heart began to pound. This was it. If he didn’t stop her now… “Will you answer just one question for me?”

She turned her head. “Of course.”

“Do you love him?”

She blinked in surprise. He never looked away from her face, searching for an answer that he already knew. Her stomach twisted into knots, and a wave of uncertainty swept over her. “I don’t know what love is.”

Paul looked at her sadly. “Yes, you do.” Gently, he brushed the hair away from her eyes. “You know.”

She met his lips hungrily, throwing her arms around his neck. He lifted her and carried her to the bedroom. Their desire for each other overrode everything else, and their lovemaking had never been so tender or so passionate. Madeline’s defenses were weakened with each touch, and she wanted nothing more than to surrender to him completely. She matched his eagerness and longing with identical emotions, ignoring the reality that ticked on the nightstand. As they climaxed together, honest tears stung her eyes, and she whispered his name with love.

Paul kissed her palm and each of her fingertips, staring into her eyes. He couldn’t live without her; he had no idea how he ever did. She meant everything to him, and he was about to lose her forever. “Madeline,” he muttered, touching her lips with his own, “please. Don’t do this.”

“I have to. There’s no other way.”

“I’ll find another way. I’ll–”

She covered his mouth with her fingers. “No. You know there’s nothing you can do.”

“Madeline–”

She gave him a gentle kiss. “Just because I’m getting married doesn’t mean I can’t be with you.”

“I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with that. You know I hate it that you train Valentine operatives, and after tonight, you’ll be married. You’d be cheating on your husband if you were with me like this.”

“It’s a job,” she affirmed sharply. “It’s always a job.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Even this?”

“No.” She gave him a tender gaze. “This is the only thing in my life that’s real.”

His lips recaptured hers, and he held her tightly, hoping she would forget about the time and her fiancé and her wedding. He almost succeeded. But as she pulled away from his embrace, he knew that there was no hope of her changing her mind.

Madeline slipped out of bed and dressed quickly. She glanced at the clock and mumbled, “I’m going to be late.” As she put on her shoes, she glanced at Paul. The heart-broken, hollow look in his eyes was almost too much to bear. She picked up her coat. “I have to go.”

As she walked out of the room, he said painfully, “I love you, Madeline.”

She stopped in the doorway but didn’t turn. If she did, she knew she would run back to his side and never leave. He was her only weakness. Briefly, she closed her eyes. “Thank you.” She left the room and hurried out the front door, wishing that just once he would ignore her wishes and come after her. Outside, she allowed herself a sad, reflective sigh. With one last look at the door, she walked away from the only thing she wanted.

End of part 1

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