Desperate Measures Part 2

By Melissa McClendon

Several weeks later, village of Escalon

High fever... Early loss of speech... Constant vomitting... Bowman threw the notebook and pen down in anger. " ...The list could go on..." But we have yet to find a cause!
" You poor dear... Here, let me get you some water ."
Bowman's light blue eyes flew up to see Nineh leaning over one of the new patients. His mood seemed to lighten greatly just by seeing her, which bothered him a great deal. He had been avoiding her completely the past few weeks, ever since Julian had fought with him the first night they had spent in Escalon.
" Here you go. This should ease your pain ."
Bowman smiled to himself, watching Nineh care tenderly for the old man. I don't know if I can handle this much longer... I better find a cause and a cure soon! With new resolve, he began analyzing the research again.
" Dr.Jean ?" Nineh instantly summoned his attention with her cold dimeanor.
" Yes, Miss Feynman ?" He suppressed a smile. No matter how strained their relations had been, he still enjoyed her company.
" I brought you and Julian some breakfast. Mr.Ganar said you both left without eating and I always cook too much anyway ."
" Thank you... It smells delicious, what is it ?" I have to break the ice... I don't care what Jules thinks.
Nineh looked surprised. " Daikon Miso Soup ."
" Ah! If it isn't little Miss Nineh ." Julian entered the room. " A beautiful sight for sore eyes ."
Nineh giggled. " Good morning, Julian ."
" Hmm... If this is what happens when I miss breakfast, I think I'll make a habit of it ." Julian grinned devilishly.
" We'll see about that ." Nineh warned with a teasing smile. " How goes the research, Dr.Jean ?"
" Coming along nicely ."
" We should have it all figured out soon ." Julian concluded confidently.
" Well, what herbs are you out of ?" Nineh asked, passing a sideways glance to Bowman.
" Oh! I've already made a list for you. When do you leave ?"
" This afternoon ."
" Will I see you at dinner ?" Julian inquired, tying back his long green hair.
" Probably. Good-bye, Julian... Dr.Jean ."
Julian watched her leave with a smile, adjusting his glasses. " She certainly is beautiful. The man who marries her is very fortunate ."
Bowman glanced at his backside. " Hmph. I'd give her a six at the most ."
Julian shot back around. " Are you blind, Bowman ?"
" No. Everyone just has a different opinion of beauty ."
" I suppose you're right ."
" Still... She shouldn't go off by herself ."
" Nineh will be fine. She can take care of herself ."
Sure she can... Bowman thought wryly. But, she's no concern of mine. With that, Bowman returned to his work.

Why is he so cold to me? Did I do something wrong? Maybe he just doesn't like women... Hmph. Why should I even care? Nineh shook her head and tucked her sapphire hair behind her hood, deciding the matter wasn't worth dwelling over.
" Hmm... Lavender, isn't it ?" A deep voice inquired.
Nineh's head shot up in surprise. " W-who are you ?"
" An admirer ." The masked man replied.
" Oh..." There was something so familiar, yet frightening about this man and Nineh quickly decided that it was safer that she get as far away as she could from him.
" Well... If you'll excuse me..." She got up and pointed towards the sky. " Its about to rain and I should be leaving..." The man jerked her back towards him, causing Nineh to drop her basket of herbs, which were quickly scattered everywhere. " H-hey !!" She tried to pull away and when that didn't work, she kicked him hard in the groin. He growled in pain and instantly backhanded her, sending her railing to the ground.
" Stupid bitch !" He went to strike her again but was quickly stopped when Bowman grabbed his wrist and twisted it back.
" What the hell do you think you're doing ?!!" Bowman demanded in blind rage.
" None of your damn business !" The man tried to take a swing at him, but in one fluid motion, Bowman sent him sailing back into a nearby tree. The man slowly got up and took off running into the forest.
If not for Nineh, Bowman would have chased after the man and gave him a sound beating. " Are you alright, Nineh ?" He kneeled down beside her, watching her as she scurried about on her hands and knees, picking up her scattered herbs.
Nineh just nodded, keeping her head low to conceal her face. Bowman glanced down at her tiny, trembling hands and instantly captured them with his own, savoring their soft texture. " Its alright, Nineh ."
Nineh's eyes locked with his, the unshed tears making her sapphire eyes sparkle. " Bowman..." She whispered before wrapping her arms around his waist, resting her head against his chest and crying her heart out.
Bowman closed his eyes and protectively embraced her, gently carressing her small back. " Its alright, Nineh ."

Several minutes later, Nineh finally stopped crying. " Thank you. That's twice now that you've come to my rescue ." She lifted her head up to gaze upon him.
Bowman ran his finger across her bottom lip tenderly. " Heh, you may get a nasty bruise, but other than that..."
Nineh gently kissed his cheek. " Thank you, Bowman ."
I can't... Julian's right, she's so beautiful... Without thinking, Bowman cupped her face and kissed her with all the passion he felt for her, more than he'd ever felt for anyone.
Nineh finally broke away from him, trembling and gasping for air as the rain began to pour out of the sky. " Bowman..." She began. " I... Its raining ."
" Hmm..." I can't think... " We're too far from Escalon..."
" I think we can make it ." Nineh looked like a wide-eyed doe, trapped and frightened.
Bowman hesitantly nodded. " Alright ." She's afraid of me... She wants to be as far away from me as possible... What a fool I've been...
" We should hurry then ."

" Bowman! Nineh! What happened ?" Ganar asked in concern when they entered his house soaked to the bone.
" I was trapped out in the forest and would have been stuck out there if Dr.Jean hadn't stumbled upon me ." Nineh managed to gasp out.
" Then you have my gratitude, Bowman. I pray you do not catch a cold over this."
" Don't worry, sir ." So we're back to the old game, are we Nineh? Bowman passed Nineh a sideways glance. " Walking in thunderstorms is a bit of a habit of
mine ."
" A dangerous habit, I might add ."
" Where's Julian ?" Nineh asked curiously.
Hot anger suddenly raced through Bowman's body. ...I can't be getting jealous...
" Oh... Carter sprain his wrist while working today. Julian is in the other room treating him now ."
" Oh, poor Carter ." Nineh stalked off into the other room. Bowman's light blue eyes followed her out of the room.
" You must be hungry, Bowman. You missed lunch, but dinner will be ready shortly ."
" No, I think I'll just return to my work ." Bowman turned away and walked back out into the rain, never noticing a pair of sapphire eyes watching him leave.

" Dr.Jean just left ." Nineh stalked back into the room with a saddened look in her eyes.
" Hmm..." Julian acknowledged, wrapping Carter's wrist up.
" You should change before you catch a cold, Nineh ." Carter suggested quietly. " Dinner will probably be done soon ."
Nineh slowly nodded. " Alright, I'll be back shortly ." Bowman... Why must you be like this? What did I do wrong?
Julian watched her leave, smiling to himself. Carter glared at him, giving his dagger another twirl. Hmph.
" Ah !" Julian hissed in pain, grabbing his wrist as blood seeped through his fingers.
Carter shot up in shock, picking up his dagger and wiping the blood off. " Oh god, I'm sorry, Dr.Ravine, I didn't mean to cut you! I'm so clumsy! Here, let me help you!"
" No ," Julian withdrew. " That's quite alright. I knew it wasn't intentional. Don't worry about it ."
Fool. In about a week, you'll be gone as well...

"...B-Bowman !!" Nineh called out before he entered the make-shift hospital.
Bowman groaned inwardly before turning around to face her. " Yes, Miss Feynman ?" He demanded coldly.
His tone was like a slap to the face and Nineh had to fight not showing him how much pain he'd caused her. " W-why must you be like this to me ?!"
Bowman's eyebrow arched in curiousity. Why should my cold dimeanor bother her? Maybe... No... " Please explain, Miss Feynman. I haven't the slightest idea what you're referring to ." He stuffed his hands into his pockets, pretending to be bored.
Nineh bit her lower lip, trying not to cry. " How can you hate me so if..." Her cheeks flamed in embarrassment at the mere remembrance of their passionate kiss in the forest earlier; she could almost swear she still felt the heat of it on her lips despite the freezing rain.
Bowman's resolve melted away and he couldn't help but gaze upon her young beauty with loving eyes. Jules isn't going to like this... But I can no longer help the way I feel about her... That kiss sealed our fate...
Nineh's tear-filled sapphire eyes suddenly locked with his. Am I fooling myself?... Probably... " ...Bowman..." She choked up as tears began to fall and she turned to leave.
Bowman wanted nothing more than to take her into his arms and kiss her tears away, but not then, it was too soon. " ...I do not hate you, Nineh ." He whispered before entering the hospital.


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