The stern of the ship rose higher and higher into the air. Jack grabbed Rose's hand and climbed over the railing.
"We've got to move!"
Struggling, her movements hampered by her long skirt, Rose tried to follow him. Jack took her hands and helped her over.
"I've got you. I won't let go."
Horrified, they clung to the stern railing, watching as people below them lost their grip and tumbled down the tilting deck. Some landed in the water, while others bounced off parts of the ship. Finally, the ship came to a stop. They were now balanced atop the stern.
The ship bobbed for a few minutes, giving hope to some that it would not sink. Then the stern began to flood.
"What's happening, Jack?"
"I don't know!"
They watched the water rushing toward them, as the ship sank rapidly. People began to disappear beneath the water.
"The ship is going to suck us down," Jack told Rose, tightening his arm around her. "Take a deep breath and kick for the surface. Do not let go of my hand. We're going to make it, Rose. Trust me."
She nodded. "I trust you."
They were only a few feet above the water. Rose took a deep breath as their perch disappeared beneath the sea. In seconds, they were struggling in the deep, icy water, as the ship headed for the bottom, trying to take them with it.
The suction whirled them around, pulling their hands apart. Separated from Jack, Rose kicked to the surface alone.
The sea was filled with people, screaming, struggling, begging for help. Rose turned around, looking for Jack.
"Jack!" she screamed. "Jack!" He was nowhere to be found.
Rose began swimming, trying to move through the press of people. Looking for Jack, she didn't notice the man behind her until he pushed her under, trying to get out of the water.
Rose fought him, struggling to the surface. "Jack!" she screamed.
The man pushed her under again. Desperate for air, Rose dove deeper under the water, hampered by her life belt. Still, it was enough for her to get away.
Struggling out of the crowd, Rose swam aimlessly, her limbs half-frozen from the icy sea. She looked around for something to get her out of the water—a boat, furniture, wood—anything.
Then she saw it, gleaming whitely in the darkness. A large chunk of ice, broken from the iceberg when Titanic struck it. Forcing her frozen limbs to move, Rose swam over to it, lunging out of the water and onto the frozen surface.
Moving quickly, before her clothing froze to the chunk of ice, Rose pulled herself atop it. The heavy coat that she wore protected her from the rough surface, as well as providing some warmth. Her life belt kept her body far enough away from the ice that she didn't freeze.
Jack struggled in the icy water, feeling Rose's hand pulled away from his. Kicking desperately, his lungs near bursting, he made his way to the surface.
He emerged into utter chaos. People struggled around him, trying to find a way out of the bitterly cold water. Someone knocked against him, almost pushing him under, and he knew that he had to find a way out of the crowd.
He swam away from the people, looking around for Rose. There was no sign of her. In the distance, he saw an overturned collapsible, still floating on the surface. Several people had managed to climb aboard, so he followed them, hoping that Rose was among them.
She wasn't. Only one woman, a steerage woman, had managed to climb aboard the overturned boat. Jack pulled himself atop the vessel, shivering in the bitterly cold air. Looking back at the screaming, struggling crowd, he tried to find Rose, to no avail.
Rose lay on the chunk of ice, staring up at the sky. How long had she been lying there?
She wasn't sure. Some time before, a lifeboat had come back to look for survivors, but she had been unable to attract their attention. The boat had passed by her, while she tried futily to shout to them.
Turning her head, she saw someone waving a green flare from the assembled boats. The dark form of a rescue ship appeared on the horizon.
Rose saw that the sky had begun to lighten in the east. The ship came closer, moving fast, dodging icebergs. It came within twenty feet of her before moving closer to the assembled boats.
Lifting her head from her arm, where she had been resting it to keep her hair from freezing to the ice, Rose saw that a few more lifeboats were still scattered about the area, including one overturned boat with a number of passengers balanced precariously atop it. Someone on the overturned boat blew on a whistle as it came closer.
Seeing her chance, she tried to roll off the piece of ice. Her efforts were in vain. The coat, life belt, part of her dress, and her shoes were frozen to the ice.
Struggling out of the life belt, Rose heard someone shouting her name.
The boat had moved close enough for her to be visible, and her struggles to remove the life belt had let them know that she was alive. Jack stood atop the overturned lifeboat, shouting to her.
Rose squirmed, pulling the coat off. The icy air blasted her exposed skin as she pulled her feet from her shoes and lunged off of the ice floe, ripping away part of her dress in the process.
Jack was unable to believe his eyes. On the ice floe, struggling to move, was a red-headed woman who looked like Rose. At first, he had been uncertain that it was Rose. Then, as she forced herself to sit up, he recognized her.
Shouting her name, he encouraged those who had oars to come closer. They resisted at first—the boat was close to capsizing, and they were still some distance from the rescue ship—but when he threatened to jump off, unbalancing the boat, they had agreed. Within minutes they were at Rose's side.
Jack sat down on the boat, leaning closer to pull Rose up. She was shivering, her lips blue from cold, as he pulled her up. Her life belt, shoes, and coat were gone, along with half of her skirt. The ragged bits of silk offered little protection from the cold.
Holding her in a standing position, Jack helped her to balance as the boat slowly made its way toward the Carpathia. She wobbled dizzily, weak from her ordeal, as they approached the rescue ship.
When they had rowed into the shelter of the ship, people began scrambling aboard. Rose nearly fell back into the water as she tried to climb aboard. Someone helped her up, and Jack scrambled up after her, falling to his knees on the safe, solid deck.
Rose had fainted. Someone picked her up and carried her toward the ship's hospital, and Jack hurried after them, not wanting to let Rose out of his sight for a minute.
Rose awoke slowly, feeling someone's hands holding hers. The person was whispering quietly to her.
"Rose, come on. Wake up. You've got to wake up. You didn't get through the night just to die now."
She tried to open her eyes, but they were too heavy. Her whole body seemed to be covered in something heavy and soft.
The hands caressed hers, trying to warm them. They were familiar hands...if only she could open her eyes, she might know who they belonged to.
"Rose, please, wake up." The voice sounded desperate. "I love you, Rose."
Who was it? The voice was too deep to be her mother's, and Cal would never have allowed himself to sound so desperate. The voice was higher than Cal's, anyway. Jack? she thought, struggling to open her eyes.
"Jack," she whispered, hoping that she was right.
Jack froze as she whispered his name. Her hands moved, tightening around his. Slowly, she opened her eyes.
Rose blinked, trying to make out the blurry figure in front of her. "Jack?" she whispered again.
"I'm right here, Rose. Are you all right?"
She tried to move, finally realizing what was piled atop her—at least six blankets. Confused, she looked at him again, seeing him more clearly this time.
"Where am I?"
"The hospital on board the Carpathia. You fainted when you were brought on board, about eight hours ago. We were afraid you wouldn't make it."
"Oh. Where's Mother and Cal?"
Jack's heart sank; she wanted to go back to them.
"I don't know about Cal, but I'm assuming your mother is in first class."
"If you see Cal, tell him I died. If you see my mother, tell her I'm here."
He stared at her for a moment. "You don't want to see your fiancé?"
"He'll find a replacement soon enough. I'm staying with you." She paused, turning her head slowly to look at him. "Did you say you loved me?"
He swallowed hard; maybe he should have kept his mouth shut.
"Yes. Yes, I did."
"Good. I love you, too." She yawned, her eyes growing heavy again. "Find Mother for me, Jack. She deserves to know I'm alive."
He nodded, as she closed her eyes. As he was about to leave the room, Rose spoke to him again. "Jack?"
"I'm getting off this ship with you, too." She half-smiled, showing some of her old fire, before dozing off again.
He laughed, joyfully. Things would be all right now.
He kissed her on the forehead before leaving to find her mother.