For Stuart

Sep. 1st, 2006 02:19 am
bennet_beauty: (Default)
Jane had begun feeling progressively worse over the days. Though she rested, she had trouble waking and the feverish feeling did not go away, neither did the odd and scratchy feeling in her throat. She bundled up properly as she readied herself for a walk, still determined to rid herself of this strange illness.

Out of habit, her feet turned towards the path leading to Stuart's campsite, and tried to reconcile her heavy breaths and the flush in her cheeks as excitement at the prospect of seeing him. The evening was setting in and the stars were very beautiful in the sky.

As she approached, she first searched for Kojak, seeing if he was about, for that meant it was likely that Stuart was as well. She placed her gloved hand to her forehead and slipped out of her blue coat, the heat becoming too much to bear.

Stu looked up when Kojak did and saw her. She was so pale that the flush of pink in her cheeks was clear from a distance, and to watch her coming closer and stripping off her coat was more than unusual.

"Miss Jane? Miss Jane, what're ya doin' down here?" he asked as he got up and crossed to her.

Jane smiled, draping her jacket primly and neatly over her arm. "I've just woken from a nap," she explained, still approaching and curtsying lightly. "And decided to take a walk." She smiled, but it was very small, as the pounding in her head would not allow her to be truly serene at the moment.

"Were you busy, Stuart?" she asked, voice cracking slightly at his name, going hoarse.

"I ain't busy, Miss Jane," he said, brows furrowed as he offered her his arm. "You come ta set with me a spell? I ain't doin' nothin' but readin' some."

Her voice wasn't right and that smile wasn't up to her normal way, either. "You feelin' alright there, ma'am?"

Jane hesitated before stepping to take his arm, composing herself and giving a proper smile, linking her arm into his. "I'm sure I'm just drowsy, yet," she assured, though there were small bursts of pink in her cheeks as she looked up at him. "It's a dreadful thing, waking up after an unexpected nap."

It burned to touch her and Stu stopped short, his hand rising to her face. Not gentle touch, he felt her cheek and forehead and looked down at her with a mixture of concern and something nearing fear in his eyes. "Miss Jane, you're burnin' up. You oughtn't be outta bed," he said cautiously.

Jane looked at him, her eyes a mix of worry and confusion as she slipped off her glove and pressed it to her own cheek, her fingers brushing his as she did. "Oh," she remarked, with a small smile. "Silly me, I shouldn't have risen so soon," she murmured, her head pounding ever so loudly now, watching as Stuart almost swayed in her vision as another flush of heat worked its' way over her. "Perhaps I should sit," she murmured, clasping his shirt tightly for a grip.

His arm shot around her waist to steady her as he wondered what to do. Being out here might not hurt for a bit. Fresh air was good, but exposure was another story. Kojak joined them and whined as he sniffed at her skirts. "G'awn, dog. Miss Jane, you just come with me," he said softly, leading her back toward the tent.

Jane closed her eyes tightly, trying to think, trying to do anything but appear weak and she murmured a lazy and soft, 'thank you, Kojak' with nothing but genuine thanks and sincerity, that he might care for her.

She opened her eyes and when she did, she was looking straight at him, her arms around his waist for balance, her coat having fallen to the ground. "Where are we going?" she murmured, eyes dilated and resting upon him, remembering the dance they had shared.

Oh, Lord. Stu's heart nearly stopped at the frail little blonde looking up at him with wide eyed innocence framed by flushed heat. The last time he'd seen it...no, he wasn't going to think on Abi. There was no way Jane had the plague. No damn way.

"We're gonna go set a spell, Miss Jane. Then I'll walk ya home."

Jane nodded, righting herself as the heat passed for a moment and she was able to stand upon her own feet. "I had hoped to come and watch the stars," she murmured, her voice soft. "With you."

She simply smiled, a hand to her forehead as she slid her glove back on, brushing away tiny beads of sweat. "I'll be fine, Stuart. Truly," she assured.

He held onto her firmly but gently and lead her back and sat down with her on the log. "Miss Jane, the stars ain't gonna be out for a while yet. Maybe..." think Stu, use that space between your ears, "...maybe we could go back ta the Compound an' watch from the porch. In a proper chair."

With the pounding and the heat, she simply gave a silly little laugh, smiling demurely. "One chair may be too small yet for the both of us, Stuart," she teased, her cheeks pink. She sat and leaned into him without realising, needing the support. "It does sound a pleasant idea, though," she spoke distractedly, already standing on her own and walking to fetch her coat. "Will Kojak be joining us?" She turned to inquire, a pleasant smile upon her face, cheeks becoming more red than pink.

She moved quick for someone who looked absolutely ready to be overtaken by fever. Stu stood back up and moved closer, his shoulders getting tighter. She looked just like Abi had, flushed pink with glassy eyes, not making much sense although she tried, and she seemed like she was swaying. "Miss Jane, we'd best be gettin' back," he said, trying to keep the worry out of his voice.

"Getting back?" she asked, confusion flickering past her eyes, the pupils wide as she looked at him, breathing harder. It was so very hot, but she could hardly complain about a silly thing like that. "Oh! Oh, yes, to the compound, of course," she realised, exhaling the words. "Yes, that's probably bes..." The words didn't finish as the warmth shot through her and her knees gave out from under her, blackness overcoming Jane as she collapsed to the ground.

"Well shit," Stu hissed, reaching out to catch her before she fell far. He hoisted her up and bent to pick her up, strong arms behind her back and under her knees. She didn't weigh much, but as he started to walk, his leg screamed in protest which he stoically ignored. He adjusted his grip and headed for the infirmary, praying that she'd be okay.

She roused partway through the walk, peering around, feeling that she was being carried, the fever effusively dominating all her senses. "Stuart," she protested softly, voice barely there. "Stuart, your hands," she whispered, absolutely flushed to the point that her skin looked like it had prickles of pink. The building was in sight, but she wasn't sure what was going on, now.

She caught sight of his face, her own burning up. "I'll be well," she insisted, quite stubbornly. "I assure you, I'll be well."

"I know ya will, darlin', I'm jest gettin' ya to a better place than my camp," he said absently, eyes trained on the door as he began to limp a little. She was so hot that he was beginning to sweat, but he blinked and set his jaw.

"Tell Lizzy?" she begged quietly. "I didn't tell her where I was going, didn't say I was coming to see you because she'd give me a talk." Her eyes rolled upwards as she closed her eyes and gave a soft noise, almost of suffering. "Oh, this is dreadful," she murmured. "I'm truly sorry, Stu," she murmured, his abbreviated name barely noticed. "Stuart, I did not wish to impose upon you so...I never imagined this would be how you had me in your arms, not like this," she mumbled, rambling softly as she tried to stand up herself, to put her feet on the ground. Things were becoming slightly less coherent.

He held her tighter as she struggled in his arms and he looked down at her. "Be still, Miss Jane. I ain't letting go, so you may as well simmer down," he said firmly, climbing the steps with some effort and kicking the door loudly. He didn't want to put her down to open it, and wouldn't unless he had to. "Open up, y'all," he called.

Jane looked up at him, settling in his arms and while the fever may have been setting in, her heart and mind were still very active. "You're very much a man," she admired, her fingers softly crawling over his shirt, down and trailing along the hem, delirium accompanying every word, every moment. "I'm very lucky to have you," she said, fingers brushing the soft skin of his stomach as they slipped under.

At some point, the door had been opened, but she barely noticed, not for the world. "The room is spinning," she murmured. "It only did that before when you kissed me," she told him, sitting up in his grasp until she was closer to him. Whatever was she saying? "Oh," she gave a soft whimper. "Stuart, I'm sorry. It's merely the fever," she protested, flushed.

He dismissed her touch and her bold word to delirium and he made his way to a bed, looking for any of them damn doctors who were supposed to deal with this kind of thing. "I am a man, Miss Jane, an' you don't have ta be sorry a bit. You just need ta get ta bed."

"Are you coming with me?" she murmured, eyes only half-open, her hand rubbing soft circles at his hip.

"I'll tuck ya in, Miss Jane, but you wanted me to go fetch Miss Lizzy, remember?" he asked as he laid her down, resting her head gently on the pillow. He could barely believe she was saying such things, even burning up as she was. "But I'll come right back," he added.

Jane's head hit the pillow and she let out a soft and grateful sound, one hand rising above her head, fingers upon her burning forehead. "Stuart," she spoke, and it was afraid, her eyes falling shut, even as she spoke. It was so warm. "Please don't leave me alone," she finished, voice tiny by that point. She had felt so incredibly lonely and scared at Netherfield. Being here was oh so much worse.

"I won't leave ya," he whispered, his voice shaking. He'd been waiting for something more, some cough or gasp, something to tell him one way or another if this was Captain Trips. All he got was a sinking feeling that he'd done all these folks just as wrong as Campion had that June night.

She opened her eyes and though everything was hazy, she saw him there, and smiled as best as she could, grasping his hand with hers and giving it a gentle squeeze. "You're a good man," she murmured genuinely, her voice hoarse. "If there is a Doctor about, please tell him there's a terrible ache in me?" She was scared, truth be told, rather terrified, but she would not speak a word of it aloud.

She tugged at the gloves, needing them off, needing to be cooler. "And my head..." She gestured. "Quite an ache." And the fever, how it burned. "Stuart, please, I don't wish you to catch this," she said, quite firmly, almost desperately. "Please, don't catch this?"

Stu choked, trying to swallow the fear as he nodded and squeezed her hand. He looked around and saw a doctor. The Doctor. He was in the bed a bit over, cheeks flushed and gaunt, his eyes sunken in and his skin shining with a sick pallor of sweat. Stu began to shake and he sunk to his knees, laying his head on the bed beside her. "Oh, dear Lord, please say it ain't so," he pleaded to whoever might be listening in this forsaken place.

Her fingers threaded through his hair as she turned on her side, simply stroking there softly, drowsiness overcoming her. "Everything will be all right, Stuart," she promised softly, her voice barely there. "You'll see." No more came from her as her eyes closed and she drifted off to sleep, fingers in his hair, her lips parted in a small 'o', her body curled towards his warmth.

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Jane Bennet

February 2014

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