A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Five: Treason! Treason! Treason! Part Two.

PART TWO.

Maximilien had returned to the storage room, temper still running high.

He paced back and forth for a moment, hands tightly clenched behind his back. He clenched his jaw, eyes set on the cluttered floor in front of him.

Even over a thousand years in the future, and Max couldn’t escape the same infuriating entitlement of the bourgeois.

Or the disgusting rumors that had followed him since Brissot had accused him of aspirations of dictatorship in 1792. His lip curled. He should have known that Girondins’ calumny would follow him, sticking to Maximilien like a stubborn burr.

Abruptly Max was overcome with fatigue and he sat down heavily, body bowing under the weight of the past 48 hours.

He hadn’t dared to look up the Revolution, or his family on the database that Leonardo had shown him. Terror of the deepest sort gripped him every time he thought of it. He was desperate to know what had become of Charlotte, but the terrible thought that she’d died as well stopped him. Max didn’t want to think of his only surviving sibling, alone and frightened, all of her fire doused in the face of his enemies. He did not want to consider what had happened to the Duplays, if Eléonore or Babet had…had…

Maximilien shuddered. He didn’t dare think it.

A soft knock jolted him from his morbid thoughts. Rain stuck her head around the door.

“Don’t sulk in here all day, Robespierre. It’s looking like we are going to have to move this tete-a-tete back to my house, and I’ll need to give you a wardrobe update. Come back to the kitchen soon,” she said cheerily and then let the door slam behind her.

Max frowned.

And Rain…

How did she factor into this? She didn’t seem like she held a grudge against him, as she’d implied so many people did. So why did she bring him back? He was not like Leonardo, a man who been brushed with the hand of Grace itself.

He was not a king either.

He was only Robespierre.

A chill went across the back of his neck and Maximilien reached up to rub a finger over the guillotine scar. He shivered and stood up.

The hallways were darkened and empty. Rain had already vanished and Max supposed that Leonardo and Richard were still in the kitchen.

It was silent as he approached the doorway, and he slowed to a stop before he entered.

Leonardo was leaning back in his chair, hand moving restlessly over the paper. With a blush, Maximilien realized it should have occurred to him sooner that this Leonardo was the Leonardo, who died in the arms of the King of France.

Richard, meanwhile, was still eating with the hunger of a man who’d been very active and hadn’t had food in a while. In a sudden flash, it seemed Max was back at the Duplays, after Phillipe Le Bas and Antoine Saint-Just returned from the army, putting away food like any other young person, talking to the Duplay’s daughters, one of whom would eventually be Le Bas’s wife. Max shivered and shook the image away.

He looked up when Max entered, eyes narrowed and mouth full of bacon.

Revolutionary and sovereign stared at each other frostily.

“I agree, I like this future as well, where a man is free to have a variety of opinions, and it is not impressed upon him by another.” Leonardo spoke conversationally, without looking away from his drawing.

“What?” Richard barked at the artist.

Leonardo looked up, a bushy eyebrow raised.

“I thought that’s what was being debated.”

Max managed a thin smile but Richard scowled.

“Are you saying that you agree with this,” he gestured to Maximilien, “revolutionary? This usurper?”

Leonardo held out a hand, palm out.

“I said nothing of the sort.” The Italian’s voice had gone hard. “I said that I was pleased to be in a future that will not force me to agree with either of you.”

Maximilien raised an eyebrow. “I wouldn’t impress my will-“

“You might think you wouldn’t, but by trying to turn my to a side, you have,” Leonardo cut across his words quickly. Richard smirked at Maximilien.

Rain returned before it could become another argument over the rights of people or the divine rights of Kings.

“Ah good, you’re back. I need to explain a few things before we leave for my house.”

She propped herself against the counter, fingers beating a rapid beat on her cane. Her brown eyes roved over each of them, her face inscrutable.

“I brought the three of you back to life, to the year three thousand.”

Promptly, Richard butted in. “Yes, why would you do that again?”

Rain stared at him blankly. “For science.”

At this Leonardo nodded his head in understanding, while Richard rubbed his temple, jaw set.

“Of course,” he growled. “Why didn’t I assume that?”

Rain waved his complaints away with an airy hand. “Well you weren’t doing anything for anyone dead. So here you are. Anyway, it now appears that we need to move this operation back to my domestic residence. And to do this I’m going to need to take you out into public.”

Her gaze suddenly sharpened.

“We’ll need to change your clothes, you can’t go wearing pajamas. I suppose your hair isn’t so out of fashion.” She frowned considering. “That can always be changed later, anyway.”

Maximilien reached up to finger his hair self-consciously.

Rain stamped her cane on the ground decisively and smiled at all of them. “That’s decided then. I’ll replicate your clothes and then explain the transporters after.” She smiled at all of them. “This’ll be easy, right boys?”

Maximilien glanced at Richard who was staring at Rain like she’d come straight from Charenton, to Leonardo who was smiling benignly at her.

“Okay, I’ll grab the clothes, stay here.”

She said the last part through her grit teeth, before limping her way out of the room.

Richard seemed to wait just long enough for the sound of her footsteps to fade before he was out of his seat, pacing like a caged bear, head set low between his shoulders and grinding his teeth.

“I’m going nowhere with that woman.”

Maximilien let out a polite cough.

Really.

Richard swung his head around to stare at him.

“Yes?” He snarled, his meaty breath invading Maximilien’s senses.

“You don’t really think you ‘ave a choice here, do you? It’s obvious that she has us captive here,” he pointed out.

“She’s one women. Between the three of us, we can overpower her and leave.” Richard said, as if Max was thick. He bristled at the tone out of principle.

Leonardo interjected.

“I will have no part in overpowering a helpless, lame woman. I’d rather go with her and try my luck leaving her at a later date. Usually if you go along with a person they more likely to be agreeable later.” He sat back and crossed his arms, as if to challenge either of them to try and move him by force. Both of them looked to Max.

“And you, Robespierre?” Richard asked, lip curling over his name just slightly, as if the taste in his mouth disgusted him.

Maximilien turned his back on the two for a moment, clenching and unclenching his hands.

On the one hand, even though Max was loath to admit it, his instincts went with Richard. Rain hadn’t given them any explanation as to why they should trust her, or even why she’d brought them back, taking their gratitude and therefore their loyalty as a given and it rankled Maximilien badly.

Loyalty is never a given, he thought to himself.

However, Leonardo was also right: Rain hadn’t done anything yet, other than bring them back to life. If this was a good or bad thing, Max had yet to decide. She was also unarmed, and he couldn’t quite justify what they would have to do to a lone woman to escape. Leonardo also appealed to a base level of Max’s philosophies: independent artisans. He’d take that any day over a former king of England.

He chewed his lip then decided, turning around to face them again.

“I agree with Leonardo, Doctor Miller hasn’t shown herself to be a threat yet, and it’s be monstrous to attack an unarmed woman.

Leonardo smiled thinly at him, but Richard threw a hand up in exasperation.

“It’s obvious that she means no good, kidnapping us like this. We haven’t seen another person since we got here. And she’s clearly mad,” Richard snorted. “For science, saint’s blood.”

Leonardo frowned at him. “Science is a noble pursuit. It explains how the world works.”

“It could explain why the sky is blue, I care not. I’m leaving,” Richard declared.

Maximilien moved to block him. Richard was taller than he was, and probably much stronger, but his stubborn nature won out.

“You’ll go nowhere, not until we find out more. I won’t let have Miller distrusting all of us, simply because you can’t accept another’s will,” he said, meeting Richard’s hard grey-eyed stare.

“I will move you by force if I have to.” The ex-king said softly. Out of the corner of his eye, Maximilien saw Leonardo tense in his chair, looking ready to separate them by force.

However all three turned when the sound of Rain’s cane came tapping out of the hallway.

“All right, here we go,” she announced grandly when she entered. She looked around at all three of them, from Leonardo gripping his chair, white knuckled to Max’s and Richard’s posturing.

“Am I interrupting something?”

 

A Fiction Agreed Upon. Episode Four: Terror and Virtue. Part One.

EPISODE FOUR: Terror and Virtue.

PART ONE.

Paris 1794

It is a bright hot day in Thermidor. Regardless Maximilien finds that all the colors have become muted and blur together. He isn’t sure if it’s from the unceasing pain in his jaw, the blood loss or the fact his glasses have been long since lost. As the cart rumbles down the street and the screams around him increase, Max closes his eyes.

He keeps the closed even as rotten fruit, small stones and insults are hurled at him, many missing their mark, but a few hit.

A moldy orange ads to the stains all over his once fine undershirt, a rock glances off his shoulder and people scream tyrant at him.

Tyrant?

If he had been none of this would be happening. It seems like a logical fallacy, to call Max a tyrant, when he has selfless served the people, lived and breathed and bled for them. He’d promised his youth and happiness for them.  

And now he will die for them as well.

Next to Saint-Just is utterly silent, even as the people jeer at him as well.

“Angel of death! The Angel of Death and his master!”

In the carts a head of them, Bonbon, dear brother Augustin, and Couthon both lay in the baking sun. At least they will not see the people’s faces, the sneering derision in their eyes.

The cart suddenly stops, but Max does not open his eyes. They are not at the Palace de la Revolution.

He can smell the sawdust, the summer lilacs. A dog barks somewhere and distantly Max wonders if Brount is safe? Is Charlotte? Will some kindly citizen keep them?

Max hopes so, since he has failed to.

When their father left, he’d promised his siblings he’d protect them.

He’d gone to Louis le Grand and Henriette had died in her bed.

He’d gone to Versailles and Paris to try and secure a better life for people like them, people without a family, and now he’s killed his brother.

Maximilien can only hope that his sister survives them. Charlotte deserves better. She’d always wanted was best for him.

He hopes the Duplays are keeping the windows shuddered, as they did for Louis Capet and Danton and Camille. He would not want them to see him, they were a good family of kind patriots who have done much for Max since has moved to Paris.

Has it only been five years? It seems like a whole lifetime ago.

He refuses to open his eyes to look, he does not want to know. He doesn’t want to see if Babet, whose son now doesn’t have a father, or Eleanor is looking at them.

Max wants to hide his face, but stubbornly keeps his chin up, refusing to accept the title that the people of Paris want to shove onto him. He won’t go to the guillotine with his head hung, like he can be shamed into being a ‘tyrant’.

That is not who Maximilien Robespierre is.    

The cart rattles to life again and on they march.

Maximilien knows he only has about thirty minutes left to live.

He mourns for Saint-Just, because Max knows that he will never mourn for himself. Antoine will stand tall and just right until the moment they force his head into the stock before it is removed.     

The Cart stops again. Max opens his eyes to the blur of muted colors. Time passes in dollops now. One by one his good and noble associates are forced off and walked up the steps to meet the madame.

First Augustin, who Max can hear moan and cry softly, his legs been shattered by the jump out of the window. Couthon screams as they force his body to the plank to tie him down.

Next to him Antoine straightens up when they grab him and force him off the cart. He looks up at Maximilien.

Saint-Just stares at him for a moment and it breaks something inside, so see how young, his friend really is, barely 26 years old, and has already done so much for the Republic and now will die at the blade. Max imagines there is something in Anotine’s eyes, some glimmer than he is desperately trying to communicate to him before the guards forcibly march him away but what it is slips away from Max, and he leans forward to gently brush his nose along his friend’s forehead for a last moment of friendly contact.

“Adieu, mon ami.” Saint-Just says, as if he is simply leaving the Committee for the night and not forever, and Max cannot see as they walk him away. There is silence, and then ‘thunk’ and screams from the crowd.

Then they come for Maximilien. He does not struggle as they pull him down from the cart. The world has gone strangely quiet around him, even though Max can see people’s mouths still moving, lazily like a dying fish’s. Through his blurred vision he can see the sunlight glint off the Guillotine. He is nearly dragged up the stairs, so eager are they for his blood. He stumbles slightly, his head spinning. With his nearly blind eyes, Maxime looks around at the people who have crowded around the guillotine. There are women knitting in the front row. Children are on their parents shoulders. People throw flowers and fruit.

This was what he wanted the Celebration of the Supreme Being to be like, Max thinks, a last flicker of irony going through his brain.  

He is shoved against the plank of woods, bounds quickly wrapped around him. He stares around blankly, and something like fire races up his spine when he thinks that Danton must have been strapped to this same plank before he died. And Camille, and Lucile. Louis Capet. Marie Antoinette.

Maximilien Robespierre. His jaw throbs as the muscles twitch.

Suddenly a pair of hands is grabbing at his face and ripping his bandages away.

He can’t prevent the scream that tears itself from his throat. It has been building there since he was young and has been too long contained, he thinks madly, his own screaming deafening as the plank is lowered and slid forward. This scream is what is under all his tightly contained convictions, all his primness, and virtue. This is what he is reduced to, a screaming voiceless animal, who is going to die in pain, alone.

Maximilien dies screaming.  

XXX

In the year three thousand.

Max flinched awake, immediately choking. His body automatically curls up to defend itself, every never alive and screaming to help him avoid death.

“Whoa! You’re okay! It’s fine, you’re okay!” Someone says to him and he moves away from the kindly hand placed on his shoulder.

Max gasps in air, even as he feels his throat constrict, and panics even more.

He doesn’t want to die.

If he can’t breathe, if he can’t breathe, he can’t speak and if he can’t speak he won’t be able to defend himself.

The blood of Danton chokes him!

“Relax, relax, your heart is going crazy right now, you need to calm down before you put yourself into cardiac arrest.” The words mean nothing to him, but the warm hand on his shoulder gives Max something to focus on. He is forced to sit up, his eyes struggling to focus on something, anything. He still has no glasses and the room is blindingly bright.

“Whoa, you’re face…” The voice, it sounds like a woman, mutters. “It’s okay, it’s okay, just breathe okay? Um, with me. In,” She presses on Maximilien’s chest and he takes a shallow breath in, feeling it end in dry sob. “And out.’

She forced him to keep breathing, patting his shoulder.

“I’m grabbing you some medicine, I’ll be right back okay? Just-just keep breathing.”

Max’s chest was caving on itself and he gasped, laying back down on the cold metal table he found himself on.

“Here, here, it’s okay. “ Something cold was pressed to his neck and within moments Maximilien was gasping in cold air, his lungs inflating again.

“There. Better? Huh, I didn’t know that you were asthmatic.”

Max squinted up at the woman, trying to bring her into focus. Her dark hair was free flowing and hung around her face like fabric.

“W-where am I? Who are you?”

“Stay calm. You’re on North America, in a city called Grand Forks. My name is Doctor Rainbow Miller.”

Max stared at her as best he could, his head spinning. He tightly gripped the edges of the table he was laying on and the cold seeped into his bare skin.

“H-how am I alive?” The words he meant to thank were of thanks, but they got lost and morphed on the way out.

She touched his shoulder again. The doctor sounded proud when she announced,

“I brought you back.”

Back?

Back, from death?

Max laid back down and closed his eyes, a headache getting ready to bloom behind them.

She patted his shoulder and he wanted to jerk away. The lights were blinding him and he was too cold.

“You’re going to be okay, Robespierre.”