A/N: Alrighty, I had an epic case of writer's block with this one, but it finally finished itself today. This morning, actually, but I only got internet connection now. Anyway, here's a little more Varen than the previous chapter, so I think I've halfway appeased Yue. Here you go people, enjoy it, and I love them reviews!

Chapter Nine:

The ocean spray should have been refreshing in the warm, sunny day, but when the drops struck her face, it stung her skin and made Uzuri more tense with the thought of what was to come. She stood tall and rigid at the ships prow, worrying edges of her soon-to-be frayed bay-blue jacket. "Oh, stop it! You're making me nervous," Edalene exclaimed, straightening off the railing she had been leaning on. "There's something more to this impromptu holiday, isn't there? Something to do with that old gypsy woman?" She studied Uzuri closely, waiting for her friend's reaction. Uzuri sighed stiffly, pursing her lips. When she finally met Edalene's gaze, she nodded. "Yes, Edalene. There's a lot more to it than I can tell you."

"It has something to do with the man you wrote about in your poems, and the gypsy woman reminded you of him, didn't she?" Edalene walked over to Uzuri, reaching for her hands and clasping them in her own. "You don't need to tell me anything, Uzuri, but if he means so much to you, and if what you had was worth the suffering and brings you this kind of hope, you should find him and speak with him alone. I will help you find him," she smiled at her friend, hoping to reassure her in whatever Uzuri planned to do.

"Thank you, Edalene," Uzuri whispered, then she added: "how did you –"

Edalene blushed a pink rose. "A poem lay on your desk, and I read it, wondering who he could have been to make you feel like that," she stepped away from Uzuri, and stared out towards the rapidly approaching French shoreline. "I wish I could have that feeling," she muttered wistfully to herself, not realizing that Uzuri could hear her, and was wishing for the same thing again.

The pack settled on his shoulders in that comfortably uncomfortable way, and not for the first time, he wondered why he had joined the airforce: he would constantly be exposed to the sun, and would definitely have many long months without proper – and very careful – feeding to top that…. He shook his head, running his fingers through his long black hair before replacing the ridiculous cap that was a part of his uniform. A wry grin crept up one side of his face as he thought of all the strange looks he got from other men of the time, with their short-cropped hair, when it wasn't slicked back, of course. He approached the only manned desk in sight, removing the cap from his head and placing his pack on the ground next to him, rolling his shoulder. "Varen Beaudelaire; reporting for duty," he said. The officer nodded curtly, glancing him and his gear over before standing. "Right this way…."

Uzuri put her head in her hands. No-one was telling her anything useful, and Edalene didn't know any French at all, which made it difficult to deal with her former people. They had made their way to military offices in Paris to try and track down – in Edalene's mind – Uzuri's 'Mystery Man'. "Desolé, mesdames, mais je ne peux pas vous aider."

"Attendez, monsieur! S'il vous plaît, atten–"

The door slammed shut behind the officer. "–dez," Uzuri finished, plopping back into the chair. She pursed her lips, and looked at Edalene's plainly confused face. "It didn't work, did it?" she asked. Uzuri almost burst into hysterical laughter at the innocent British accent. She was frustrated, upset, and she didn't really know what to do about it. "Morning, ladies, uh, Bonjour!" a young, male English voice said, ending in shaky French. Uzuri nodded, barely noticing Edalene's soft grin. "Can I help with anything?" he asked, glancing between Uzuri and Edalene.

"You can, in fact," Edalene started. Uzuri glanced over at the cluttered desk in front of her, searching for papers that might be useful while Edalene's conversation floated into background noise. Something, anything… Uzuri pleaded, not sure who to anymore. There! She almost grinned; she had seen Varen's name under an airforce list… now she just needed the name…. "Uzuri?"

"What?" Uzuri countered, sitting straight, wide-eyed and blinking at Edalene and the young man. Edalene narrowed her eyes. "Did you hear what Harry just said?"

Uzuri looked at the earnest young man. "Harry…. No, I didn't," Uzuri admitted.

Edalene sighed, exasperated. "Harry said he could help us…" she raised a brow at her friend. Uzuri looked him over, wondering how far she could push…. "I'm looking for a man, he's recently come from England back to France to join the army. I do believe he's in the airforce," she started, unsure if she should add his name.

Harry nodded, taking a seat at the desk both women were at. "I can't guarantee anything," he started, "but I can take a look at the records in the back…." Harry swallowed hard, looking pale.

This could cost him his job, Uzuri thought. "I'd appreciate that," she smiled. "Oh, and his name is Lord Varen Beaudelaire." The young man nodded, then stood stiffly and walked to a back room. "Tell me if someone's coming," Uzuri whispered, ignoring Edalene's goggling expression. She snatched the page she had seen earlier, and still ignored the hissed reprimands Edalene seemed to like so much. Lord Varen Beaudelaire, Groupe de Chasse III, Uzuri put the paper down just as Edalene squealed: for all of her mischief-making, when it came to some things, she cracked under the pressure. Harry had just appeared in the doorway, looking disappointed. "I can't seem to find anything –" he stopped, watching Uzuri lean back slightly and fold her hands into her lap, suspicious about the glint in her eyes.

"I think I've realized something now, and through that, found what I was looking for. I appreciate your help," Uzuri stood, and Edalene followed hesitantly as they turned to leave. "Oh, Harry?" Uzuri called, briefly turning back. The young man blinked. "Yes?"

"Take care of yourself."

Uzuri wrapped and unwrapped the dark ribbon around her fingers as she stared out the windows of the taxi she was in. Edalene had stayed at the hotel, keeping to her promise now that Uzuri had a better idea of where to find Varen. Am I doing the right thing? she wondered. What will I say to him? What if he's moved on? What if it's not him? What if…? Uzuri lightly gnawed her bottom lip, a whirlwind of thoughts spinning through her head.

"Ça va, ça va?" Varen called, nearing the men he would soon be flying with. The war against Germany had become official, and the French were realizing that their own aircraft was somewhat pitifully outmatched by that of the enemy. His flight was the first to be outfitted with Bloch MB 152's, single-seat fighters which were incredibly ugly according to any sensible French citizen. Varen's greeting was met with a bass chorus of 'ça va', 'd'accord' and 'oui'. They were currently inside the large chateau's drawing room, the building of which would soon serve as headquarters for the Groupe de Chasse III. Most of the men didn't trust each other, and most certainly disliked him: his hair was too long, his bearing too proud. But the common people could never properly deal with nobility, Varen had always believed. He sauntered over to the bar, pouring himself a whiskey before wandering to the window. I'm going to regret this, Varen thought. It seemed to be a recurring phrase lately, and it wasn't overly pleasant. He lifted the glass to his lips, but froze when he caught a whispered conversation. "I'll bet he's only paid his way in; can't do nothin' else if he's so pretty-lookin'," a man sniggered softly. Varen pursed his lips, and drowned the first words that came to mind with some of the whiskey. "Tais-toi, Moses. On ne sait jamais; il pourrait être un bon homme," a second countered. A corner of Varen's mouth lifted faintly: this was… interesting. He breathed in deeply, the smells of old wood, leather, faded cigar smoke, and ancient books and more modern smells he wasn't bothered with naming filled the room, and he –

"Tell me, Beaudelaire, why was an… upstanding… French citizen in England? You are actually French, not so?" Moses said, his patronizing tone barely masked under the questions, seemingly smug. Varen took in the quiet hisses of the others. He turned around slowly. "Je suis français, oui. Pourquoi j'ai été en Angleterre, ce n'est pas important pour toi. J'y suis retourné, c'est tout qu'est important."

The man floundered, his mouth opening and closing like a fish. Varen briefly caught the awed gaze of a brunette man, presumably the one who had told Moses to keep quiet, before turning back to the window. He wondered where Uzuri was, and if she still remembered him…. Varen threw the last of his drink down his throat, put the glass on the bar and walked out, furious at himself and these petty mortals. He needed time to think, and clear his head, and the best time to do that was while he packed the things in his room to prepare for their briefs: this band of misfits would soon be sent to war, and in his experience, it was better to be too prepared than not at all.

Varen thankfully had a room to himself, so he was free to read, write and do as he pleased. He rarely closed his door, preferring to listen to the movements and conversations of everyone in the mansion. So far, he could tell most of the members by the way they walked. It had always amazed Varen that humans were such loud creatures: loud, clumsy, bumbling brutes…. He snorted softly as he lay stretched out on his bed, eyes closed with his fingers laced together behind his head, ankles crossed. Tentative, hesitant footsteps came closer to his door, stopping just outside. Varen stayed still, pretending to be asleep: he didn't recognize this person, and wanted to know what he would do. A somewhat frustrated, ashamed sigh met Varen's ears, then medium-length strides carried the man away. Varen stood by the door, leaning out and searching the passage for his mystery, would-be visitor. The woes of being a vampire… he mused briefly, catching sight of the young man from the drawing room. Varen sighed: there were some things he just didn't like dealing with, and this was one of them.

A/N: Please keep in mind that Varen comes from an age where homosexuality was outlawed and not accepted: this does not reflect my views on the matter, and please do not flame me for this. Now that I've said that, this last little bit is a somewhat minor part of the story, and I think the next chapter will better explain Varen's train of thought as he experiences the situation. I can't say I'm overly chuffed with how this chapter turned out; I thought it would be closer to the WWII action, but apparently not. I don't think I made major reference to homosexuality, but this A/N is here as a disclaimer in case someone takes offense. I hope not, but I think I've explained myself fairly ok concerning the matter. Please PM me if you're unsure, I know my profile makes me seem colder and harsher than I actually am, but I guarantee you I won't be rude or mean.

_oOo_

French Translations: (If any of these phrases in French are incorrect, please say so in a review and how to correct them. Thank you!)

Desolé, mesdames, mais je ne peux pas vous aider. Sorry, ladies, but I cannot help you

Attendez, monsieur! S'il vous plaît, attendez Wait, sir! Please wait

D'accord Ok

Tais-toi, Moses. On ne sait jamais; il pourrait être un bon homme Shut up, Moses. You never know, he could be a good man. (The name 'Moses' in French sounds more like 'Mo-eese'; it kinda rhymes with the

English 'geese')

Je suis français, oui. Pourquoi j'ai été en Angleterre, ce n'est pas important pour toi. J'y suis retourné, c'est tout qu'est important. I am French, yes. Why I was in England, is not important to you. I have returned

here, that is all that's important