Desperate Measures Part 4
By Melissa McClendon
A few days later
Bowman stood alone among the various mourners to Dr. Julian Ravine's funeral, the rain beating down on his back more than making up for his unshed tears. He felt numb from the loss of his best friend and nothing of heaven or hell could reach him at that moment, not even Nineh Feynman.
Nineh stood off several feet away from Bowman, already realizing he wanted to be left alone in his mourning for Julian. One of her shaky hands held an umbrella over herself and Ganar, the other resting on his sunken shoulder in comfort for the loss of his son, not knowing Carter was truly responsible for Escalon's problems and Nineh wasn't about to tell him. As much as she would miss Julian, a kind and gentle friend, her true worry was for Bowman, her sorrow-filled eyes wandering over to watch him ever so often in growing concern.
"...ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."
Those words spoken by the saddened village minister, who had most recently lost his wife of more than 40 years, seemed to break through Bowman's shell of numbness, making him realize Julian was really gone... And he wasn't coming back. NO!! Jules?! Bowman's light blue eyes shot up as Julian's coffin was lowered into the earth. I said you were going to be fine in a few days, why didn't you listen?... Damn it!! Why must I be so weak?! I feel so helpless, Jules...
The funeral ended soon after that and most of the villagers were already returning to town. Bowman knelt down beside the modest tombstone, his knees sinking in the saturated earth as he lowered his head in defeat. Nineh started towards him, wanting nothing more than to hold and comfort him. Ganar grabbed her arm, preventing her from going any further. " Young men prefer to deal with grief alone, Nineh. Come home now and tell me what really happened with Carter ." Nineh hesitantly nodded, passing Bowman one more glance before heading back to the village with Ganar.
Bowman never even noticed her leave, choosing not to acknowledge her. I'm sorry, Jules... About Nineh... About everything... I wish you hadn't died... But I wished you hadn't died with the pain over Nineh even more... Please forgive me... I know you loved her... But she's no longer a concern, Jules... I'll be leaving for Lacour as soon as I can get my things packed. With that, Bowman got up and headed back towards Escalon, determined to leave without facing Nineh Feynman again.
" Don't worry about Carter, Nineh... I always knew he wasn't perfect..." Ganar trailed off, even knowing the truth, he stilled mourned the loss of his son.
" I'm sorry, Mr.Ganar... Carter's death was... my fault..." Nineh glanced down at her trembling hands resting in her lap, wondering why she felt so weak.
" You did what you thought was right and it nearly killed you... In fact, you shouldn't even be out of bed yet, Nineh ."
Nineh smiled weakly, tossing back her now shoulder-length sapphire hair. " I'll be fine, sir. A few cuts and bruises never hurt anyone. I'm just glad this is all over ."
" I think we all are, Nineh. Its unfortunate so many good people died beforehand... Your parents and Dr.Ravine especially ."
" Yes..." Nineh nodded sadly. Through all of this, Nineh hadn't been able to mourn her parents deaths properly or privately and between that and her business with Bowman, Julian, and Carter, quite a toll had been taken on her.
" Nineh, you've been looking paler everyday... Are you sure you're alright ?"
" Yes... I'm fine..." Just as she said that, Bowman stormed through the door and up the stairs to his room. She watched him with curiousity and sorrow, completely unsure of what they were to each other, if they were anything. " Excuse me, Mr.Ganar." Nineh slowly got up and began to follow Bowman up the stairs, grasping the railing for support in fear of losing her balance with her already weak legs.
Bowman didn't look up when Nineh opened the door and walked in, but continued to pack his things into his bag. " Bowman, what are you doing ?" She whispered.
" What does it look like I'm doing? Need I state the obvious ?" He replied coldly, not even bothering to look up at her.
Nineh slowly swallowed the lump in her throat as well as her fears and inched forward to rest her hand on Bowman's shoulder. " I'm sorry, Bowman... About Julian..."
Bowman jerked away, railing around to face a now frightened Nineh. " I don't want or need your pity !"
" Bowman ?" She whispered in disbelief.
" Julian died with a broken heart because you women love to toy with our feelings! He didn't blame me for loving you, but how could I ever love someone as cold and uncaring as you? You were just a pathetic distraction. You and Carter were meant for each other! But I won't dishonor Jules' memory by staying here any longer and risking temptation of your company again !"
With Nineh's last reserve of strength, she slapped him soundly across the face even as tears of heart break threatened to fall. " Why must you be so hateful to me? Are you afraid to love, Bowman? You're only using Julian as a scapegoat for your own fears..." She had to leave, she couldn't risk embarrassing herself further. She had to retain some pride. " How could I have ever possibly have loved a man as selfish and hateful as you ?" With that, Nineh turned around, held her chin high and left without another word.
Nineh...No! I must atleast try to honor Jules' memory... Bowman slumped down on the bed and buried his face in his hands. " ...What the hell am I gonna do ?"
That stupid, heartless... How can I still love him?! Nineh's legs finally gave way half-way to her house and she collapsed in the mud, struggling to get up while crying her heart out at the same time. Bowman... No! I must be strong! I must get up! Slowly, Nineh got up and made her way home, gasping for air and shrugging off the rain every step of the way.
She threw all her weight into the door in order to open it and she stumbled into her quiet house, struggling to make sense of her distorted vision. " W-what's wrong with me?... Bowman... " She tore at her throat as she collapsed to the floor, gasping for air that seemed to be growing thinner. Bowman!!
" I'm such a fool... Nineh is right... I am afraid to love, but I'm also afraid of leaving Escalon without her... Damn it!! What have I done ?!" Realizing he had to see Nineh right away, he jumped up and prayed she would still have him.
" Nineh, darling ?" He called from the door, noting it was open. When she didn't reply, he hesitantly stepped inside, praying this wouldn't make her even more angry with him. He examined the living room, not a sign of Nineh having been there. There was a soft whimper followed by a painful moan that instantly caught Bowman's attention. His light blue eyes hesitantly fell down to the floor where Nineh lay in a crumpled heap, shaking horribly and gasping for air. " Nineh !!" Bowman dropped down beside her, turning her around on her back and checking her vital signs. " Oh god, Nineh, please forgive me! Please forgive me..." He took her into his arms and carried her up to her room, praying it wasn't what he feared it was.
Bowman collapsed on Nineh's couch several hours later, his whole world seeming to be falling around him. She's dying... Damn it! She's been hiding it from me... From all of us... I should have known she would contract the disease... There were just so many cuts from her fall... I should have thought she would have came in contact with the dagger during her fall... I've got to help her... I have to atleast try... I can't lose her...
Ganar slowly made his way down the stairs, shaking his head sadly. " Of all the people... She's not going to make it, is she Bowman ?"
He just looked at Ganar with a broken expression. If that's how she contracted the disease, through a small cut... She may have more time than Jules and the others... Its taken this long just for the first signs to appear... " There's a slim chance, Ganar... If there's enough time..." With that, Bowman made his way up the stairs to Nineh's room.
Nineh's breathing had calmed down some, but she was ghastly pale and was growing worse every hour. Bowman quietly sat down beside her, resting his head beside hers, wishing she would just open her beautiful eyes for a few minutes so he could atleast apologize to her before he left for Lacour. His hand reached up and brushed her sapphire hair back behind her ears, wiping away the perspiration collecting on her forehead.
" Oh Nineh... This is all my fault... I was wollering in my own self-pity... I lost Jules and I blamed myself... But I shouldn't have blamed you... I should have just told you how I feel... You're so kind and considerate... And I walked all over you and now I'm going to lose you if I don't find a cure..." I love you, Nineh... Even now, when you couldn't possibly hear me... I'm afraid to tell you so...
Bowman reached for something in his pocket, watching her as he did so. Finally, he retrieved a tiny gold ring with a single diamond annointing it and took her hand in his.
" I know you must hate me now, Nineh... But atleast do me the honor of being mine for a little while... When I come back with a cure and you awaken, we can decide then... But please wear this promise ring until then..." Bowman gently slipped the ring on her finger and bent down to kiss her. " Please forgive me, Nineh... I'll be back for you when I find a cure..."
As Bowman got up and shut the door behind him, Nineh's eyes weakly flew open and glanced down at her hand. " ...Bowman..." She whispered quietly as tears of pain made their way down her face.
Hell... Does it ever stop raining or does it just follow me? Bowman thought irritably, wiping the rain from his eyes as he continued making his way through the chaotic streets of Lacour as its residents tried to reach cover from the increasing down pour. I have to have Florice analyze it immediately while I prepare my lab to create a cure for her... Bowman's hand absent-mindedly fell to his belt again, checking to make sure Carter's dagger was still in its sheath at his side. It was his only clue to finding a cure for Nineh and he would do anything to make sure she lived. Nineh... Just hold on a little longer, darling...
It was in the early hours of the morning before a sound other than the turning of pages echoed through the Lacour Library, and one lonely soul was joined by a long-forgotten friend. Keith quietly entered the library, careful not to disturb Bowman as he lay deep in his research, not even acknowledging him as he sat down. " Thanks for dropping by and saying hello. I had to hear it from Murdoch that you had returned ."
Bowman turned the page in one of the several books he had stacked on the table.
" I'm not back for good ."
" This isn't your usual routine for this time of night, where's Jules ?" Keith grabbed one of the books and began looking it over. A dead silence fell over the room and a strange feeling washed over Keith. " Has something happened to Julian ?"
" The disease we were fighting... It only got worse... There was malice involved and... Julian contracted it... There's still no cure..."
" Will he be okay ?" Keith inquired.
Bowman continued his scouring over the book as he finally replied, " Julian died a few days ago... I have to find a cure before Nineh dies as well..." The desperation in his voice permeated through and Keith could tell his friend was about to have a nervous breakdown.
" Dear god... Julian..." Keith whispered in disbelief.
" Has Florice finished the analysis yet ?" Bowman quickly changed the subject.
" Florice went to bed hours ago. You're the only person in the castle up... Well... The only one studying anyway ."
" Damnit !!" Bowman shot up, sending books and papers everywhere as he stormed towards the door.
" Where the hell are you going ?!" Keith shot up in confusion.
" I'm gonna go wake up that stupid woman! I asked her to analyze that dagger! A person's life is on the line and she's sleeping!!" Bowman caused a shelf to collapse as he slammed his fist into it in anger before leaving the library. More books scattered all over the place, the once neatly stacked papers and books were now all one big mess, the librarians' hard work was completely undone by one fit of rage by Bowman.
" Damnit Bowman! Calm down! Leon has been sick--"
" I don't want to hear it, Keith !" Bowman's voiced boomed from down the hall.
" Unless the kid is dying, I don't care !!"
Keith finally stopped, not wanting to witness his friend's temper combined with that of Murdoch, Florice, and a very sick Leon. " He's lost his mind..."
" Damnit, Florice, get up !!" Bowman yelled at the top of his lungs as he kicked their locked door open with brute force, knocking it off its hinges.
A half-dressed Murdoch shot out of the bed in defense of his family, not knowing who the enraged intruder was. Both Florice and Leon screamed in fright, Florice wrapping her arms around Leon protectively and keeping a concerned eye on her husband. Murdoch's dark green eyes finally focused on Bowman in the dim light and his own temperment instantly snapped. " What the you think you're doing, Bowman?! Have you lost your mind?! Busting in here and threatening my--"
" Shut up, Murdoch !!" Bowman warned. " Florice! Get up, get dressed, and finish analyzing that damn dagger before I--"
" Bowman! The King shall here of this !" Murdoch growled.
" Good! I hope he does! Why don't you go wake him up right now so you can tell him! Better yet, while you two discuss what a terrible person I am, I'll go wake him up too !" Bowman turned around and began to walk out the door.
" I'll be in the lab in five minutes, Bowman, meet me there ." Florice interrupted calmly.
" Thank you, Florice. A person's life depends on it and I've already lost a dear friend..." Bowman passed Murdoch a vicious glare before he walked out of the room.
One Day Later, Realm of Cross
I must... keep going... I can't give up... Nineh has to atleast have a fighting chance... Bowman finally collapsed against a tree, not caring that he began to sink into the mud or that the rain continued to beat down relentlessly on his hunkered back. His eyes burned from going nearly a week with no more than two hours of sleep and every inch of his body ached with fatigue, but he was already well past exhaustion and he had to keep going... For Nineh's sake... I'm almost there... I'm almost to Mars... Just a little longer... Hold on, Nineh...Seeming to be imparted with new found strength, Bowman slowly got up and began stumbling his way down the long road to Mars.
" I don't know where the little darling came from, Father ." Celine Jules answered to her father Eglas, impatiently tapping her foot on the hardwood floor of her parents' home. " He definitely needs a bath ."
Eglas gave her a hard look. " Where did you find him, Celine ?"
" I found him collapsed at the gates as I was leaving. I think he's looking for some herb... He kept mumbling something about it..."
" Don't worry about it, Celine. Go ahead and start your journey. Your mother and I will care for him ."
Celine slowly nodded and kissed Eglas' cheek. " Good bye, Father ."
As Celine walked out the door, Bowman slowly opened his heavy-leaden eyes. "...Where..." He whispered hoarsely, not quite sure of his surroundings. Eglas instantly turned around to face Bowman. When reality suddenly hit him, Bowman shot up in fear. " Nineh !!!"
" Relax, young man. You must have had a rough go of it. Was there a young woman with you ?" Eglas inquired quietly as Labe strolled into the room.
"...No..." Bowman struggled out, finding it very difficult to speak. "...I'm... a doctor... Nineh's... sick... I need... the herb..." He collapsed back against the pillow, what little energy he had left now exhausted.
Labe reached over and placed a cool compress against his burning forehead. " He's running a dangerously high fever. He hasn't had any sleep ."
" Well..." Eglas thought carefully. " The only rare herb that naturally grows here is the Avagadro... Any other herb here you can get just about anywhere ."
Labe looked up at her husband. " Do you really think we should give it to him? Perhaps we should consult the Elder ."
" This man nearly killed himself trying to get here. The least we can do is help him. Lives may depend on it ." Eglas concluded grimly. " I'll journey to the forest and get it for him. Treat him as best you can ."
Labe quietly watched her husband leave. " Be careful, dearest ."
" She's only gotten worse since he left, Dr. Klasner. I pity her really... I doubt he'll come back and she'll die with a broken heart ." Ganar spoke quietly to Keith as they stared in on Nineh, her body restless and weak as she lay trapped in her own dillusions
of sleep, everyday coming closer to death and yet always crying for Bowman's safe return.
" He'll be back... Through heaven or hell, Bowman'll come back for her ." Keith shook his head in disbelief, still remembering the uproar he caused in Lacour for Nineh's sake. " I never thought I'd see the day he fell in love. I always knew Jules would..." He trailed off sadly, Keith's last memory of Julian fresh in his mind.
" Dr.Ravine was a good man... His death was unfortunate ."
Keith nodded, like Bowman, he preferred not to talk about Jules' death. " He will be sorely missed by many ."
" Indeed ." Ganar signaled for them to leave and Keith soon followed as Ganar slowly began shut the door.
" Bowman !!" Nineh spoke as loudly as she could between her labored breathing, she struggled up in desperation, trying to get out of her bed.
Keith rushed to her side and caught her as she got tangled up in her blankets and nearly fell off the side of the bed. " Calm down, Nineh. You have to relax ." Keith gently lay her back down on the bed despite her weak struggling.
" Let me be..." She whispered, tears falling down and mixing with the perspiration. " I have to find Bowman..."
Keith realized she was hallucinating and tucked her in. " Don't worry... He'll be back soon ." I hope so anyway...
Several days later,
" Mmm..." Nineh moaned, weakly bringing her tiny hand up to cover her eyes from the sunshine bursting through her window as the sun began to rise. " Ohh..." She turned her head to one side, finding it easier to breath. " ...Bowman..." She whispered in fear, trying to get up but finding that her weakened state made it impossible. Suddenly, a musky, light green tea scent reached her nose, causing her to finally open her leaden eyes in hope. Everything was a bright blur, reminding Nineh of how much her head ached. When things slowly began to focus, she smiled, finding Bowman fast asleep in a chair, his entire upper resting on her bed and his arm wrapped protectively around her waist. " Bowman..." She ran her fingers through his tassled hair, allowing her hand to linger against his cheek. He came back...
" Its good to see you're finally awake... Hopefully with your wits about you ." A man chimed.
Nineh gasped, looking up to see the stranger leaning against her wall. " W-who... are you ?"
" You needn't fear me, Nineh. I'm Bowman's friend, Professor Keith Klasner. I'm a linguist from Linga. He asked me to come here and watch over you until he returned with a cure ."
Nineh's sapphire eyes rested on Bowman lovingly. " He... asked that ?..." She whispered. " Is he okay ?"
" He's just exhausted. I wouldn't doubt it if he sleeps for the next three days ."
Nineh took a deep breathe, it felt so good to finally be able to breath normally again. " What happened to him ?"
Keith grinned as he got up to leave. " He fell in love ."
Nineh gasped and her eyes shot up at Keith, her cheeks flaming crimson. Keith smiled and winked at her before leaving the two alone. Slowly, a warm smile crossed Nineh's pale face and her eyes went back to rest on Bowman, who was now beginning to stir. Does... He really love me?... He... went through so much... for me? Or, was it because he just didn't want to lose another patient? I don't care anymore... whether he loves me or not doesn't matter, only that he atleast knows I love him more than life itself.
Bowman groaned as he slowly started to rise up, his neck now stiff and sore from the irregular sleeping position. He yawned and slowly began to stretch, failing to notice an almost glowing Nineh staring at him with loving eyes. Suddenly, as reality hit him, he almost jumped in panic, light blue eyes wide with lack of sleep and fear, Nineh's name on his lips. He stared at her blankly, almost afraid that he was dreaming.
Nineh raised her weak arm up and cupped his face with her tiny hand, lightly carressing his cheek and chin with her nimble fingers. An almost girlish giggle rose up through her throat. " Ooh... Someone hasn't shaved in a few days ."
Bowman looked at her curiously, basking in her warm, glowing smile. She...
doesn't hate me?... His relief was overwhelming and he instantly embraced her. " Oh Nineh... Nineh..." He whispered over and over breathlessly, raining kisses over her soft skin. " Please forgive me... I was such a fool..."
Nineh finally withdrew far enough from his embrace to gaze upon him, gently running her fingers through his hair. " Bowman... There is nothing to forgive. I know just by looking at you that you've been through hell these past few days and I don't know whether it was for me or because you couldn't handle losing another patient after Julian... But I can't forgive myself or allow you to leave without telling you how I feel... That I love you..." She turned five shades of red with her confession, avoiding Bowman's intense gaze.
" I..." He trailed off nervously. Suddenly, in a burst of happiness, he hugged her to him as close as humanly possible, causing her still incredibly sore and weak body to cringe and she whimpered. Then, cupping her chin in his firm grasp, he gently kissed her pale lips and smiled at her knowingly. " I love you, Nineh, darling ."
And with that, the two lovers tenderly embraced, basking in each other's newfound love, knowing they would never part.
Author's Note: ::sniffle:: I hope you enjoyed my little tale based
on, for those of you who might not have recognized it, a Private Action where
Bowman confesses that once when Nineh had some rare disease, he had been
desperate and rushed to Mars in order to find a rare herb that would hopefully
cure her. This PA was very special to me because, next to Noel, Bowman is
my favorite character and most people seem to doubt his love for Nineh. For
those of you whom aren't familiar with my other fanfics, I have a fetish
with NPC females and I can't help but like Nineh, the perfect woman for Bowman.
^_~ Well, if you just watch the few scenes with them together and how he
mourns for her "death" while the team is on Nede, and just the PAs and his
portrait, there isn't a doubt that he loves her desperately. ^_~ With all
this evidence, you know I just had to write a fanfic about it. I hope you
enjoyed it and that reading this will inspire others to write more Star Ocean
fics! C'mon, I really would like to read them! ^_^ Be expecting another one
soon, featuring our man Noel Chandler! ^_~ As always, I appreciate comments
and criticism on any of my fics, you know how to reach me... Er... I hope
so. ^_~ Thanks!!
~Melissa "Dei" McClendon
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