Disclaimer: Marek and Claire belong to Michael Crichton. I’m just playing in his sandbox.

Author’s Note: This ficlet is based on the movie because I liked Movie!Claire better than Book!Claire. And I also needed a more definitive reason of why Marek stayed. Also, thank you to Cleo and Ceci for the beta read.

Andre Marek took a swig of the wine in the goblet that one of the soldiers passed to him. The knight shouted something in French, raising his own goblet. Not really knowing what he was toasting, Marek raised his in return.

From his spot on the cool ground, he could see the celebration taking place around him. Knights in dusty armor flanked by cloths of blue danced around him, cheering in French. It had been a long battle, but the victory had washed away all of the exhaustion.

"How is your ear?" a soft voice asked with the hint of an accent. Marek turned to see Claire sit down beside him. The light from the bonfire caused a halo to appear around her long red hair. Marek smiled. She truly was an angel.

"It hurts like hell," he admitted. "I really miss pain medication."

Claire's brows furrowed in confusion. "Pain medication?" she asked, the words sounding strange in her mouth.

"Aye." But he offered no explanation.

Claire didn't pressure him. She only sipped her own goblet of wine in silence. Eventually, the question she had been holding back bubbled out of her. "Andre, where did your friends go? It is a long way back to Scotland, and no one could find them after the battle."

Marek stared down at his goblet. He hadn't thought this far ahead. He had only known he wanted to stay with Claire, but he wasn't sure how he could explain the rest. Loose dark curls fell into his eyes.

“Andre?” His name sounded so pretty when she said it.

Looking up and meeting her eyes, he opted to dance around the truth. How could he explain to this beautiful woman that he wasn’t from this time?

“All I know is that they left,” he said after a long moment. “I don’t know where they went.” He winced at the lie but hoped she wouldn’t notice.

Claire seemed to accept the answer, and Marek let out the breath he didn’t realize he had been holding. Someday, he would have to tell her the truth, but not today.

Claire wasn’t sure she believed him, but she felt she needed to trust him. It was strange, really, trusting a man she had only known less than a day. Yet, he had saved her life three times and saved the lives of several of her brother’s men. She leaned against him, feeling safe and warm. Whoever this man was, she was grateful he had stayed.

A silence passed between them, both sipping their wine. Claire bit her lip as another question entered her mind. If she couldn’t find out where the others had gone, perhaps she could find an answer to this one.

“Why did you not go with them?” she asked finally. Her brother would scold her for asking such questions. He always did say she was too curious for her own good. She had to know, though. She had to know something about Andre Marek.

Marek absently stroked her hair as he smiled to himself. Claire was full of questions, and he couldn’t blame her for wanting to know. After all, he still wasn’t quite sure. What should he tell her? Should he say that he had been in love with her for a long time? It sounded corny, but it was true.

He had stumbled upon the story of Lady Claire in his freshman year of college. His subject for a history of the western civilization report had been the Hundred Years War, and he found her story in one of his books. It told of a proud, young woman of noble French birth who never flinched when she looked an Englishman in the eyes. According to the story, Lord Oliver had wanted to make her his bride, but Lady Claire would have none of it. Oliver had not been pleased and chose to make an example of her. Because of her pride, he hanged her for all the French to see.

Looking down at the woman in his arms, Marek could see the same strong will and pride that he had fallen in love with. However, she was better than the story had made her out to be. The real flesh and blood beauty was more fantastic than the image he had created in his mind.

Tilting her chin toward him, Marek bent down and kissed her. Soft lips accepted his without question as her arms encircled his neck. Marek’s heartbeat quickened, and he knew at that moment he had made the right decision.

Breaking the kiss for a second, he looked directly into her eyes. “I stayed because of you.”

Before she could answer, he captured her in another kiss. Claire dropped her wine goblet as she let the taste of his lips wash over her. At that moment, she didn’t care where he had come from or who he had been. All she knew was that he was Andre Marek, and he belonged to her. That was all she needed to know.


© 2005 Crimson Idealist