Title: Elisabeth de Ma Jeunesse
Author: Drax
Written: 1999
Category: VR
Keywords: pre-XF
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Apocrypha/Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man/Kitsunegari
Archive: Gossamer yes; others with prior notification
Disclaimer: The following story is based on characters created by Chris Carter, Fox Network and Ten Thirteen Productions. The characters named are the property of those entities and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Young Deep Throat discovers something unusual in the woods.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Haphazard Method for the beta-editing and many useful suggestions.

July 17th 1954
Geneva, Switzerland

It was a beautiful, sunny summer morning. But this place definitely wasn't right for enjoying it, Ronald thought.

The cafe was really classy, but it lacked something humane, as crowded as it was. He missed the nice little bistros of Paris, or the cafes in Rome and Vienna. The Swiss were nice people, but they lacked the talent for enjoying life.

The arrival of his friend and colleague interrupted his musings. Bill hustled to the table, with his fedora still on his head and a heavy leather briefcase in his left hand.

Bill was short of breath when he took his seat, but his grin the size of Nebraska indicated that he didn't feel tired at all.

"So?" asked Ronald, looking straight into Bill's eyes.

"It's over." Bill's face glittered with triumph. "The Red Chinese caved in. It will take some time to work on the Viet Minh, but it's basically a done deal."

"So, 17th Parallel is it?"

"Yup. They got their Vietnam. We got ours. Just what we needed."

"Just like Korea." Ronald usually liked seeing Bill in a good mood, but this time his eternal optimism was only irritating. He felt obliged to bring his friend's feet back to the ground but he could speak, Bill had already guessed what was on the tip of his tongue.

"What are you? The Roman fellow who used to whisper 'Memento mori' to their generals during the triumphs?" Bill was still grinning. "We stopped them. Our task is accomplished. This is victory, plain and simple."

"Let's just say that I'm rather skeptical about all those parallels."

Bill's grin widened. "Are you still thinking that it will turn into Korea all over again? No. They don't have the guts to push south. Ho Chi Minh and his Red cronies may not like it, but there is nothing that they can do about it."

"I just hope you are right. But I have a bad feeling about this..."

Bill's face turned serious, too. "Yes. I have a bad feeling, too. Perhaps we shouldn't have started with this peace conference in the first place. Perhaps we should have helped the Frogs when they got into trouble at Dien Bien Phu. Who knows, maybe this would have turned or may yet turn into a re-enactment of World War Two. The defeated French leave half their country to the enemy until the Americans are forced to step in and do the job right."

"You aren't serious, are you?" Ronald grinned to hide his disgust. "Don't tell me that someone back there..."

"Plans are being made as we speak. I already took the liberty of making a few suggestions to General Francis." Bill smirked. "Of course, it will take some time before they are put into effect. The Project has some other priorities... But enough about business. I noticed that our Hemingway chum is missing. Where is he?"

"In Iran. Helping the Shah set up his SAVAK secret police."

"Lucky man. I wish we had such an exotic assignment. The Orient. 1001 Nights. Veiled women. Belly dancing. Harems." Bill drifted into a fantasy.

Ronald shifted in his chair, tired of Bill and his endless obscene fantasies.

"Well, he didn't look that enthusiastic when he got it. And he's right. In all likelihood, he'll spend a few weeks in some God-forsaken desert outpost. Same as New Mexico, but without the power supply, running water, air conditioning and all the other marvels of civilization."

"Well, maybe he'll find some inspiration for that epic novel of his," replied Bill. "But, yes. You are right. Norton is pushing him too hard. It's not right that one man does all that work by himself."

"It's too bad that there are few people with his talents. Maybe we should do something about it. Talk to Norton or..."

"Yes, definitely. Besides, I owe him. For saving my sorry skin in Berlin few years ago. Maybe I should-"

Before he could finish, Ronald called the waiter. The young man scurried to the table.

"Turkish coffee for me. And whiskey on the rocks for my friend."

Watching the waiter glide away, Ronald asked, "What will you do? Did you have plans for him?"

"Actually I did." Bill finally took his hat off and laid it on the empty seat at their table. "You see, I met that blonde typist from the British delegation. You should see her. Great breasts, looks to die for. And she has a friend. I thought we'd get some champagne to celebrate, go to the chateau. Klemper is out so we wouldn't have to bother with security."

Ronald winced. "Oh, Bill, that's really too much. I mean, is there any skirt in this world you wouldn't chase? You don't worry that Karin will find about Lucia and vice versa? Now you have to complicate things even further?"

"Yes, I know. I am what I am." Bill shrugged. "But... What about you? Why don't you..."

"I told you before, Bill."

"It's Judith, right? Why do you worry? Unless she finds out, no harm would be done. And even if she finds out, she would understand. So far away from home, alone... Every man needs to relax once in a while."

"Let's say that I know my limitations. Besides, there are other ways to relax."

"Like what?"

"I'm heading out to the country this afternoon. You know, mountains, woods, hiking, enjoying the scenery. Maybe even practice some shooting if I find a convenient spot. Or fishing, I don't know. You can come with me, if you like."

"Sounds great, and I'd love to join you but there is still work to be done at the conference. If you make it back by tonight, I'll be waiting with the car and ladies. Perhaps you'll change your mind after being exposed to nature."

Ronald began to laugh.

A few hours later, in a woods near the mountain lake, Ronald was again reminded why the Swiss lacked the ability to make their life fun. They didn't need to. The beautiful scenery was enough to make people happy simply by looking at it.

Ronald never considered himself a poet or an artist, but now he regretted his lack of those talents. He kept trying to think of ways to describe how pure and refreshing the pine-scented air was, how the forests softened the craggy mountains on the horizon and reflected green off the crystal blue water.

Since childhood, nature was his refuge. A place where he could lose himself from the ugly, all too real world. A place where he could shake off the stress caused by enormous responsibilities and by the dark and terrible secrets associated with his line of work. A place where he could forget everything, from international global conflicts to petty little intrigues among the various departments of the Project. A place where he could still dream of a better, more humane and balanced world, one that didn't require bloodshed and horror.

Ronald saw a single roebuck roaming in the woods, oblivious to his presence. He didn't want to scare it, even though he was carrying a hunting gun in his rucksack, along with a paper target to practice with.

A twig cracking suddenly interrupted his musings. Ronald's trained ears quickly established where the sound came from and what it meant. Someone was hiding in the bushes near the water.

Ronald quickly weighed all his options. No, it wasn't an ambush and he definitely wasn't the target. Whoever was hiding in the bushes wasn't trying to harm him. It was probably someone scared of him. But why? Ronald carefully approached the bushes.

"Josette, Hermine, is that you?" He heard a voice from the bushes. A woman's voice. A young woman, by the sound of it, perhaps a teenager. Speaking French with a slight foreign accent.

Ronald began to understand the situation, and replied in French, "I am very sorry, Mademoiselle. I didn't mean to scare you. And I do not know where your friends are. Perhaps you would like me to find them."

"You are very kind, but I don't think that you would succeed. In all likelihood they are on the other side of lake." The girl kept her voice steady, but Ronald could trace a certain disappointment. And something else - her accent seemed somewhat familiar.

"Mademoiselle, I'm really sorry. Are you hurt, or lost? You don't have to be afraid of me. In fact, I think you may have stumbled on a countryman... Your accent. Are you American, by any chance?"

"If this is one of Josette's little pranks, she worked really hard this time," the girl now spoke English with a accent that that suggested an upper class, New England pedigree. "I don't think that there are too many Yanks wandering around Switzerland this time of year."

"Oh. I don't know Josette and Hermine, You can trust my word as a gentleman. And if you don't mind my asking, why are you hiding in the bushes?"

"I was swimming. Josette and Hermine stole my clothes, took the boat and paddled to the other side."

"Your clothes... But you don't mean..." Ronald was beginning the weigh the implications. Were those girls really that wild?

"Yes. I was swimming without a bathing suit, I'm afraid." She paused, obviously expecting some expression of outrage. "It's really nothing. We just... We like it. And there isn't anybody for miles. Who is going to know?"

"Don't feel so embarrassed, Miss. I am an open-minded man myself. Some of my best friends visit nudist colonies... By the way, what do you mean by 'we'?"

"The boarding school. On the other side of lake. I could swim back there," she said, rustling around a little. "It's not that far, but I don't think that Madame Leclerc, my headmistress, would appreciate seeing me without clothes."

Ronald considered offering some of his own clothes. Of course, his shirt or pants probably wouldn't fit. The blanket in his rucksack looked like a much better idea.

He shrugged the bag off his shoulders, a little stiff after the miles he hiked. Pushing aside the gun, he began to pull the blanket from his sack. "Miss, I think I could offer you-"

"You actually don't have to bother. You probably wouldn't mind. You said that you were an open-minded man."

He saw her hand first, her long fingers, an arm, and then-

He shut his eyes as she pushed the bush aside and stepped into the clearing. But he couldn't keep them closed; he had to look.

And what a magnificent look it was. Such a beautiful body, so slender, but well-rounded where it counted, her fair skin so much in contrast with her dark hair. And the small, but seductive gray eyes that bespoke of great intelligence. Young, probably in her late teens - sweet, innocent, yet somehow adult. Emerging from the bushes with the mountains behind her, she looked Eve in the Garden of Eden.

For a second, Roland was speechless. His brain tried to remind the rest of his body that as much as it wanted to touch her, she was young. This girl was probably sixteen or seventeen years old, a minor. And the boarding school in Switzerland indicated rich, important parents. What started as an innocent trip to the countryside could easily wreak havoc in his life.

He turned his back on her. "Miss, please... I can't..."

"It's too late. You already saw me. You may hide as long as you want, but it won't change the fact. And don't pretend that you didn't like what you saw."

Ronald couldn't see her, but he could picture her smiling triumphantly. Maybe she was just a teenager, but she already knew how to manipulate men.

"Miss, I would be a hypocrite if I told you otherwise. Yes, you are a beautiful young lady. Now, I'm getting my rucksack. Inside there is a blanket. I would suggest that you wear it."

Ronald tossed the rolled up blanket behind him. It wasn't very big, but it would serve the purpose.

"I suppose your friends will be back before nightfall. If they don't want to have to answer to Madame Leclerc, they will have to bring your clothes back. If you greet them wearing the blanket, the joke will be on them."

"Maybe... But, then again, I'll have to explain where I found the blanket in the first place. No, it's a bad idea. I won't wear it. I'll just wait on the shore."

"Miss, please, don't be so childish..."

She was silent for a moment. Then she giggled. "I'll wear it. But under one condition."


"I'll be here the same time tomorrow. You must give me your word as a gentleman that you will be here. After all, I'll have to give you your blanket back."

To his great surprise, Ronald pondered the possibility. He had a few days off before he needed to be in the Soviet section of Austria. But, on the other hand, was it really a good idea? Was it simply better to run away and never come back to these woods, populated by spoiled rich nymphs eager to seduce the first man who came along?

Ronald looked around, trying not to glimpse the naked figure behind him. He watched the trees and enjoyed their beauty. He was already seduced by this place. Was it any different from being seduced by a young woman? The magic enchantment of the woods obviously softened his resolve and made him more open to extreme possibilities.

"All right, I give you my word as a gentleman. Put the blanket on and I'll be here tomorrow."

Ronald turned around after a few seconds. The girl was wrapped the blanket, still beautiful and still seductive. A wood nymph in the flesh. Ronald was certain that he would keep his word.

"Perhaps I should introduce myself." The girl smiled, glittering in triumph. "Elizabeth. But nobody calls me that. Back in the States they called me Beth. But, here, it sounds like 'stupid' in French."

"I don't mind. Miss Elizabeth is nice. You don't look stupid to me."

"Miss Elizabeth sounds too formal. Besides, there is nothing wrong with another nickname I adopted here, Mister..." She was silent for a moment. "What about you? What should I call you? Your real name? No, I have better idea, a secret code name."

Her last words almost made Ronald wince. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but it was too late for him to protest.

"Yes. I know the right code name for you," she said. "Gerard. You know what? You remind me of Gerard Philippe. You are as handsome as him."

Gerard. Ronald liked her imagination. He never thought of himself as a movie star. A French one, to make things even more interesting. He smiled.

"You never told me your own code name, Miss?"

"Teena. Everyone calls me Teena around here."


Author's Notes:

Theis story had two major sources of inspiration. The first one was "Goodbye Saigon", a pre-XF story by Martha W. Little. It gave me the idea to put some of the XF characters into the context of the Vietnam War.

Another source of inspiration was "Marianne de Ma Jeunesse", a 1954 film by French director Julien Duvivier. In its time, the film was a great hit in Europe. While watching it, I wasn't very enthusiastic about the plot, but I was really enchanted by the lyrical, romantic feel provided by marvelous Alpine settings.


Visit my XF fanfic at http://web.archive.org/web/19991115131146/http://www.purger.com/drax/draxsfan.htm


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