The Weakness in Me 2/4

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.


The knock at the door made Madeline groan, and she glanced at the clock. Charles was early, and she hadn’t finished dinner yet. He would be disappointed. She adjusted the temperature on the oven, plastered a happy smile on her face, and opened the door. The man on the other side was not her husband. “Paul?” He bent down to kiss her, but she pulled him inside and closed the door hastily. “What are you doing here?”

He raised an eyebrow. “What, I can’t stop by to see you?”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just that…” She shook her head. “What did you want?”

“I wanted to see you. I’ve missed you.” He cupped her face in his hands and touched his lips to hers, pleased that she responded favorably. “I haven’t seen you for weeks!”

She dodged another kiss. “You told me you weren’t comfortable with this.”

“I know.” He sighed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. Well, I meant it; I don’t want to share you. But then I realized…” He kissed her gently. “I’d rather be with you just a little than not at all.”

She smiled softly, but her expression quickly turned serious. “Paul, Charles is due home in fifteen minutes.”

“Fifteen minutes? That’s plenty of time,” he teased, clasping her hands in his and guiding her toward the couch.

“Paul,” she protested, giving his name two syllables. “We can’t do this.”

“Why not?”

“It’s Tuesday.”

He paused, frowning. “Yeah, so?”

“So…he’ll know.”

“What do you mean, he’ll know? He’ll know what?” He watched her stack up some books that sat on the coffee table. After several moments of deliberation, he finally gave up. “What’s so significant about Tuesday?”

“Tuesday is…” She made a circular motion with her hand, hoping he would get the hint without her having to say anything. “You know. Tuesday.”

He made a similar movement, thinking it might bestow the wisdom of Tuesday onto him. It didn’t. “No, I don’t know.”

She sighed, straightening. “Tuesday is our night to be…intimate. If I’m with you, tonight will be different, and he’ll know.”

His eyes widened in amusement. “You mean you designate times for sex?” He chuckled.

She glared at him. “It’s not funny.”

“Oh, come on! What kind of marriage is that? ‘Gee, look, honey, it’s Tuesday. Brace yourself.'”

Madeline grunted. “It’s not just Tuesdays. There’s also Fridays and whenever else he feels like it.”

“When he feels like it?” The humor was gone from his voice. “What about you?”

“It doesn’t matter to me.”

“It should. You’re his wife; you should have some say in it. What if you don’t want to?”

“Paul, I have a lot of things to do before he comes home. Thank you for stopping by, but I need to finish up.”

He folded his arms across his chest and regarded her curiously. Something wasn’t right. “Answer the question.”

“What question?”

“What if you don’t want to?”

Madeline shrugged. “Charles gets what he wants. It’s the only way this marriage will work.”

“Madeline–” She started to lead him to the door, but he stopped and refused to move. “Does he even care about your feelings?”

“Of course he does. He loves me.”

“Do you honestly believe that?”

She crossed her arms. “Why else would he ask me to marry him?”

“I’m still trying to figure that out.” He paused. “You don’t love him, but you married him.”

“I already explained why.”

“Is it working? Have you gained any more respect from Adrian?”

“I think so. She’s increased my mission frequencies.”

“She could be trying to get rid of you.”

She frowned at him. “Why don’t you believe anything I say? It’s like you don’t trust me.”

“I trust you. I only trust you. That’s why I worry about you, why I care about you.” He caressed her cheek softly. “Why I want to be with you.” He dropped his hand. “But it’s Tuesday.”

Hurt flickered in her eyes. “It’s Tuesday.”

“Is he at least–I mean, does he…” He hesitated, unsure why he was even asking the question in the first place. “Does he please you?”

She averted her gaze. “You have no right asking me that,” she said quietly, without the anger that he expected. “My pleasure needn’t concern you anymore.”

The words stung. He had rarely seen her in the months she had been married, and each day without her was harder than the last. He had just come by to apologize, to tell her how much he couldn’t live without her, and now he shouldn’t be concerned with her feelings? Slowly, he bridged the space between them until their bodies touched lightly. He ran his fingers through her hair, pushing it back to expose her neck. His lips traced a gentle path from jawbone to her earlobe and down to her shoulder blade.

Madeline closed her eyes, her breath coming more quickly as his other hand slipped under her sweater. His fingers trembled against her skin, but he couldn’t steady them. He trailed along her ribcage to the edge of her bra, and she shivered. She had missed him so much. “Paul…” she whispered longingly, arching her hips against his.

“Let me love you,” he begged gently. “Please.”

She gazed into his eyes, her walls crumbling as their lips met eagerly. He slipped his hands around her and pulled her tightly to him. She gasped, but it was not a sound of desire.

Paul stepped back to see a brief flash of pain cross her face. “Madeline, what’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. Just a bruise from my last mission.”

“I’m sorry. Here, let me see.”

“No, it’s okay.”

“It hurt you. Show me.”

She lifted her shirt with a sigh, revealing a fist-sized purple splotch on her lower back, close to her side. “See, it’s nothing.”

“That doesn’t look like nothing to me.” He touched it gingerly, spotting another one a bit higher. “It looks like someone beat the hell out of you.” As the words passed through his lips, he drew in a sharp breath. “Did someone do this to you?” His eyes flashed with anger. “Did Charles do this to you?”

“No. I told you, it was on a mission.”

“What mission?”

She hesitated slightly, hiding the bruises. “When I returned from Italy, Adrian transferred me to Valentine operations. My last assignment was a bit…rougher than the others.”

“You’re a Valentine op?” He gaped at her, suddenly growing angry. “No wonder Tuesday nights don’t bother you. Adrian has turned you into a whore, forcing you to just lay there and take it.”

His choice of language shocked her. “Well, when you put it that way…”

“When’s the last time it was consensual?”

She folded her arms across her chest. “My wedding night…before I got married.”

He remembered the night well, making love to her with such sincerity that every kiss they shared was still etched in his mind. “That was four months ago.” Fury nearly choked him. “I won’t stand by and watch you be degraded like this.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something. Don’t you see? Adrian is trying to make you as soulless as she is. And Charles is helping her.”

“You think he had something to do with this?”

“He asked you to marry him, didn’t he?”

“Paul–”

“Adrian probably ordered him to, knowing you would agree–to gain an advantage in Section. She’s sending you on Valentine missions so that you begin to feel worthless. She’s using this to control you.”

Madeline shook her head. “To what end?”

“I don’t know yet.” He was about to say something else when a peculiar scent reached his nose. “Is something burning?”

She gasped and ran to the kitchen. She opened the oven, and smoke poured out. The smoke alarm began to beep, and she grabbed the mitts and removed the blackened casserole. “Oh, no…”

He winced. “So much for dinner.”

“This is your fault!”

My fault?”

“If you hadn’t interfered, this wouldn’t have happened!” she shouted over the blaring alarm. “You come here, try to rekindle a relationship that you yourself wanted out of, and then you try to tell me my husband is conspiring against me!”

“First of all, I don’t want out of our relationship. I came here to try to get back into it. Secondly, I said ‘probably.’ He’s probably helping her.”

The front door opened, and Charles walked in. He heard the alarm and the shouting and saw smoke rising from the oven. He frowned. “What’s going on?”

Madeline jumped, startled. “Charles! I, uh…” She shoved past Paul and placed a kiss on her husband’s cheek. “Welcome home.”

He smiled at her briefly before turning to his uninvited houseguest. “Hello, Paul. What are you doing here?”

“I thought I’d stop by, visit Madeline.” The alarm stopped beeping, and he nodded. “Well, I’ll let you two have dinner. It looks…great.”

“Why don’t you join us?” Charles asked.

“Thanks but no thanks. It’s Tuesday, after all.”

Madeline’s eyes widened anxiously. Her husband chuckled. “What do you mean by that?”

“It’s discount day at Chez Poulet. Excellent fried chicken.” He noticed both of them relax for entirely different reasons. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He exited the apartment and sighed heavily.

His heart ached at the thought of what would be happening later. When he had made love to Madeline in the past, she had been so beautiful and passionate. He couldn’t bear the thought of her simply pretending to enjoy herself. He wanted to be with her, to show her pleasure, to make her feel safe, and he couldn’t do that if Adrian and Charles worked together to degrade her.

Madeline was changing, becoming cold and distant. Her reaction in the kitchen was completely uncharacteristic of her. He had to put an end to this chain of events or risk losing her forever. Determination swept over him, and he headed back to Section.

End of part 2

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