Jenkins violently jerked awake with a loud gasp and stared into the darkness around him, momentarily confused and disoriented. A soft snore coming from the indistinct form next to him instantly reoriented him: He was in bed, with Cassandra next to him, sound asleep. He exhaled a breath quietly, relieved. It had only been a bad dream.
After reaching out his hand to reassure himself that Cassandra was actually safe and sound and sleeping peacefully, Jenkins very carefully slid out of the bed so as not to awaken her. He slipped his feet into his slippers and grabbed his robe, then tiptoed out of the bedroom. He put his robe on in the hallway and tied its sash as he walked slowly to the kitchen.
Jenkins put the kettle on to boil while he gathered the things he needed to make tea. As he waited for the water to heat up, he sleepily rubbed his eyes, scrubbing them both hard with the heels of both hands. He lowered them and blinked rapidly while yawning. His vision quickly and sharpened.
Cassandra was standing right in front of him.
"OH!" he yelped, jumping in fright, his hand clutching his chest. "Cassandra! I didn't hear you come in! You scared twenty years off of my life!" The Librarian reached out to lay her hand on his arm.
"I'm sorry!" she said, smiling apologetically up at him. "I woke up and you were gone. I was worried about you—are you okay?" Jenkins smiled and lowered his head to kiss the top of her red head.
"Of course!" he assured her. "I just woke up and suddenly felt like having a cup of herb tea, that's all." Cassandra fixed him with her gaze and gave him a questioning look.
"Not buying it," she said quietly. "You forget, thanks to our Sealing, I can tell when you're lying to me, and right now I can feel that you're upset. So…. Wanna try again?"
"That particular 'gift' is proving be quite annoying sometimes," the immortal grumbled, taking her hand and raising it to his lips for a soft kiss on the backs of her fingers. The kettle began to whistle behind him.
"Would you care for some mint tea, my dear?" he asked, letting go of her hand and going to the stove to shut it off. Before he could pour the water into the small teapot, though, Cassandra hurried over and stopped him.
"I'm serious, Jenkins; I can tell that you're really upset. I want to know what's wrong," she said urgently. He could feel her anxiety for him rising as she looked up into his dark eyes with her pleading blue ones. "Please?" Jenkins knew it would do no good to try and put her off, so he sighed and turned to face her.
"It was just a bad dream, that's all," he said, smiling gently, trying to make it sound inconsequential.
"About the Trial of the One again?" she asked fearfully, her expression turning to one of horror.
"No, no, no! Not the Trial, not at all!" he hurried to reassure her. Realizing that Cassandra wouldn't let this go until he told her everything, he sighed softly and dropped his head for a moment, then looked up into her eyes again.
"I had a dream that…that your…" He tried to get the words out, but it was difficult, almost as if saying them aloud might actually bring them to pass. He took her hands in his and dropped his gaze.
"I had a dream that your tumor returned, only this time…" He swallowed hard against the large, hard lump in his throat that seemed to come from nowhere.
"Only this time, you couldn't be saved," he finally finished in a rough whisper. She felt his anguish wash through her like a wave of cold water and she shuddered involuntarily; no wonder he was so upset. Cassandra pulled her hands free and slipped her arms around her husband, laying her head on his chest as she held him close. Jenkins responded by enveloping her small body protectively in his arms. His voice thundered in her ear as he continued to speak.
"I dreamed that I tried everything I could think of, but nothing could save you, not even magic!" he said mournfully. He tightened his arms unconsciously, making it almost too difficult for her to breathe, but she didn't say anything, only held him closer. She felt one of his hands slide up her back and come to rest on the side of her head.
"I know it's foolish of me, but I hate the even the thought of losing you, Cassandra!" he whispered, closing his eyes and burying his face in her soft red hair. "I don't want to lose you! I can't even imagine a life without you in it anymore! What will I do without you?"
Cassandra's throat knotted up and large tears pooled in her eyes. Her husband seemed almost obsessed with her mortality, especially after they recovered their memories of the alternate timeline. They'd had several conversations about the difference in their life-spans, the fact that she would very likely die before him. After living with a terminal illness for most of her life, Cassandra had no fear of death, but Jenkins just couldn't let his fear go, and she was becoming concerned about him. She burrowed her face into his warm chest, his scent filling her nose as her tears dampened the fabric of his robe.
"I'm so sorry, sweetheart," she whimpered forlornly. She was almost overwhelmed by his pain. "I wish I knew what to say to make you feel better, but…" She tipped her head up to look at him with shining eyes.
"The tumor's gone! And Dr. Nassir says the odds of it coming back are very low!" she said, trying to sound encouraging. "We have several decades ahead of us! We have plenty of time now to think of something!" She laid her head back onto his chest and gave him a tight squeeze.
"We'll figure something out, Jenkins," she repeated with determination. "I know we will!" She believed her own words so intensely that Jenkins felt a tiny spark of hope spring to life in the midst of the ravenous fear that filled his heart, and she felt the shift in his feelings. He pulled away to cup her small, lovely face in his hands and looked down into her sky-colored eyes.
"I love you so much," he murmured softly, then leaned down to kiss her forehead. Cassandra smiled as she gazed up at him adoringly.
"I love you, too," she replied as she laid one hand on top of his and nuzzled his palm with her cheek. She turned her head to lightly brush his palm with her lips in a soft kiss, then turned to look back at him. She sighed quietly.
"Shall we have our tea now?" she asked, and Jenkins finally smiled. He nodded his head.
"I'll put the kettle again; the water has probably gone cold by now," he said.
But Jenkins didn't move, except to put his arms around his beautiful, young, very mortal wife, and hold her close to his heart for a very long time.