By Alone Dreaming
Dedicated: Still to my darling Joker and my wonderful Steph for making this possible. A very special thanks to Steph for, well/silly grin/ telling me a bedtime story! Now, I must also add it's dedicated to everyone who read and reviewed. I've never had such wonderful support on a story before and it made my day(s) to come home and see all the responses! You all know who you are and it means so very much. I'd list you but I fear how our beloved network would respond so- for now- thank you!
Author's Note: This is the final chapter for this story but I am hoping to write a sequel! It will take me a while, I'm afraid, because I have an original story due and I have school to work around. However, it is in the works so never fear. This chapter is a bit darker, as a warning to all. Please, as always, be lenient about spelling and grammar. I lack a beta, and often miss things when I re-read my stories. Lastly, I want to correct something I said in the last chapter. Jake is officially the older brother in this. I made the mistake of saying Will is /sighs at own stupidity/ but I enjoy seeing Jake as the elder brother. There's something ironic about it.
Warnings: Sickness, extreme angst, a touch of horror (for those who, like myself and Jake, see the monsters hiding in the corners) and absolutely no slash.
A figure was standing there, formed out of the shadows. The hands that formed were those of a skeleton's and those hands clutched a vapory scythe with a blade that both gleamed in the light and seemed dull. The creature was dressed in a dark black cloak that rippled about it as though there was wind in the room. Folds of shimmering black material covered the thing's face but Jake was sure that he could see glowing pale eyes peering at him.
His heart leapt into his throat and his breathing grew all the more aggravated. He didn't have the energy or the breath to scream. All he could do was stare in horror at the thing that was hovering over him, weapon in hand as though ready to strike. Where was his family? He needed them to prove to him that this was just a hallucination, that his mind playing tricks on him. They had to save him or it would kill him.
He expected it to attack at any second but it stood passively, hands on its scythe, watching him. 'What could it possibly be waiting for?' he cried silently. 'Is this one last bit of torture before I die? What could I have possibly done to deserve this?' It was a rhetorical question to him. This creature was obviously here to avenge little Lotte's death. This knowledge didn't erase any of his fear but it made him wish that the inevitable would simply occur.
"Oh, thank God you were passing! He fell ill so suddenly," a voice panted as someone came into the room. "I- I don't know what's wrong!"
"I'm sure it only looks bad. Nothing to worry about."
Jake's attention shifted to the doorway to find Will standing there with a young man he did not recognize. It didn't matter. He only wanted Will anyway. Whoever this new person was, that person was superfluous. He needed his brother to make the demon at the foot of his bed disappear and leave him to rest.
"W-will," he stuttered, shivering fiercely. It was so cold. "Will... m-make it go away."
Will rushed to his side, sitting down on the bed. He grasped one of Jake's limp hands, giving him a shaky smile. "Easy, easy, Jake... It's alright. See, I'm back just like I said."
Will didn't seem to take much notice of the thing at the foot of the bed but Jake could not tear his eyes off of it. "M-make it go away," he repeated with a moan. "M-make it leave."
"Make what go away, Jake?" Will asked, his eyes passing right over the hovering monster. He searched the room, trying to seek out the offensive object but eventually he gave up.
"Th-the..." He didn't know what to call it and let out a hoarse whimper as it leaned closer to him. "Pl-please... t-tell it t-too go..."
Will turned from him to look at the young man once more. "He's delirious," Will said, aghast. "He's seeing things..."
The young man was hanging back in the doorway, his hand on the frame. Small glasses framed his thin, pale face and his non-descript black hair was tied back with a bit of string. He was staring at the end of the bed, a frown on his face. In his hand, he held a medical bag filled with supplies that he used to cure the sick in his village. His clothing was average, peasant clothing. Overall, he did not seem special at all except for his eyes. Beneath his spectacles, this young man had pale eyes that seemed to glow. And when Jake saw that, he let out a soft cry and tried to hide.
The young man didn't seem fazed. Approaching slowly, he kept his eyes focused on the end of the bed. "Perhaps not as delirious as you think." He walked around the bed, onto Jake's other side. Placing the bag down on the bedside table, he grasped Jake's face in his hands, ignoring the struggling and whimpers. "Look at me," he commanded softly.
But Jake didn't want to look at him. He didn't want to see those eyes that looked so stunningly similar to the eyes of the thing at the foot of his bed. They sent terror through him and deepened the cold in his limbs. Even the hands on his face made the chill grow and sink into his very bones. He would rather look at his brother, who radiated warmth. He knew his brother hated him, but the warmth coming from him promised to lift the ice from his veins. And yet, despite what he wanted, he found himself staring into the hard, pale eyes.
"He's dying," the man said finally, his hands still holding Jake's face in place. "He's beyond my help."
It wasn't the answer Will had been looking for. From the look on his face, it wasn't the answer he had been expecting either. He sat silently, stunned by this announcement. He stared at the man, as though not understanding what he had said. "Wh-what?"
The young man sighed. Not in a sad, sorry way but instead, as though he was used to such reactions. He was still staring into Jakob's eyes and stilling his squirming. "He's too far gone. There's nothing I can do for him. I'm..." He paused and sighed. "I'm sorry..."
Will was speaking the same words he had spoken when Lotte had laid dying. "No, no...there has to be something..." was a familiar mantra. Jake barely heard it, barely comprehended the new lines "He just fell ill..." and "He's my brother...h-he's all I have left." He was mesmerized by the glowing pale eyes staring into his own, keeping him from looking at the demon at the end of his bed. They were so similar to the demon's eyes, so haunting and he thought that maybe he could handle looking at the beast if he could be free of them.
And while watching those eyes, he forgot to do something important. It was something he rarely forgot to do. Every now and again, when he was frightened it would slip his mind for mere seconds but he always remembered eventually. Be it on his own accord or because his brother and friends reminded him, he never ceased to do it for more than a minute or so. This time, however, no one reminded him and he didn't remember. But with those eyes staring at him, breathing seemed like such an insubstantial thing. His vision darkened, and the last thing he could recall was the pale eyes watching him go.
His glasses weren't on. That was the first thing he noticed when he woke up. Usually, he fell asleep with them on and woke up with them still perched on his nose. He had to admit it was quite a trick that took him a long time to accomplish but he had managed it. Sometimes they would slip off, but opening his eyes and finding them not on was bizarre. Not to mention, he couldn't remember where he had left them.
He stared at the blurry ceiling, pondering where he was. It was something he often did when he awoke disoriented. Very often he was in a new, unfamiliar place and he would have to recall what village they were swindling. It was a familiar feeling but one he usually could put to rest rather fast. It was his knowledge, after all, that allowed them to do what they did and he could bring up a village and it's superstitions in an instant. So, it was disturbing that this time, he couldn't recall where he was. He couldn't even recall what he had been doing before he had gone to bed.
Shifting his overly heavy body, he stopped staring at the roof and looked to the side. Next to him, Will was slumped over in a chair, sleeping. His head was to the side, resting awkwardly on his shoulder. His mouth was open slightly and he was snoring very softly. A cloth that had been damp at one point rested on his leg, soaking his pants on one side. He seemed rather pale, Jake noted, and the dark shadows under his eyes indicated that he hadn't slept well in a while. Once again his memory failed him, for he couldn't come up with a reason for Will to sleep well. Will usually slept like one dead from the moment he laid down to the moment he awoke unless he had a lady friend with him.
He wanted his glasses. Tilting his aching, leaden head, he studied the bedside table in search of them. With skewed vision, he took in the large bowl perched there along with a tub of some sort of paste and a cup of water. Towards the one side, he could see a mug of something and a few jars of unidentifiable substances. On the far corner, he discovered what he was looking for. His glasses were resting haphazardly there, beyond his reach. Slightly frustrated, he let out a sigh and decided to search out his book. Perhaps it would be easier to get a hold of. He didn't feel like moving much.
His book was not on the bedside table and a painfully slow look around the bed proved that he hadn't fallen asleep reading it. The inability to see any distance kept him from checking if it was on the floor and his inability to move kept him from sitting up and looking on the table in the corner. However, the realization that he had no idea where he had put his book sent a sense of fear through him. He always knew where his book was, no matter what. It was where he kept all his stories. Looking back at the bedside table and finding it empty still, he looked at Will, wondering if he should wake his clearly exhausted brother up to ask where it was.
And that was when he noticed the book resting over his brother's knee. It was on the leg without the towel, much to his relief. To his agitation, though, it was open and resting straight down. That was one of the worst things a person could do to a book and Will knew it. Jake reminded him constantly, especially when Will took to looking at HIS book. It would destroy the binding and wrinkle the pages. Jake cringed simply looking at it and found himself feeling sick.
Actually, he had felt sick before this, he just hadn't noticed. It was as though he was getting over being ill and he was worn out. He didn't remember being sick, though, and as he reached to grab the book from Will's knee, he wondered if he was coming down with something. It would explain why he was tired, aching, and had a strange tickle in his lungs.
His hand slipped and hit Will's leg instead. The book tumbled from where it was balanced and hit the floor with a slap. Will jerked away with a yelp and Jake watched with horror as his brother's foot came down on the helpless book. There was the sound of tearing pages filled Jake's ears and a loud thump followed as his brother crashed to the floor.
"M-my book," he choked out, his voice nearly non-exsistant. He couldn't see the book but the sounds had engraved the picture of ripped pages.
From the ground, he heard a groan from his brother. "My head..."
"W-will," Jake mumbled around the tightness in his throat. "My-"
Will's exclamation cut him off. "Jake!" In a flash, Will was on his feet and sitting on the edge of Jake's bed. He wrapped his hands around one of Jake's. "I thought you were going to sleep for eternity like some of the people in the legends. How do you feel?"
Jakob Grimm had found, from experience, that when he was very sick or badly injured, he had a tendency to become single minded. His energy was always limited and instinctively, he focused it on completing one task at a time. Currently, the one thing on his mind was the book which had been crushed. He really didn't care how he felt or how long he had slept. He didn't really want to find out why Will looked so relieved or even why he had been sleeping in a chair. He wanted to make sure his book was alright.
"B-book," he gasped, his dry and sore throat refusing to produce any more words.
Will looked confused for a brief moment and then looked down at the floor. "Ah! Sorry, I was," he reached down and scooped it up. To Jake's relief, the pages looked ruffled but not beyond repair. "I was reading it... Last night..." He trailed off and ran his hand over the cover, tracing the lettering on the front cover. "They're good stories, Jake." He carefully cleared some room on the bedside table and put the book down. "But never mind that, how do you feel? I've been worried about you."
Now that the book was taken care of, Jake's mind was slowly settling onto another straight path. Registering his brother's questions, he put them into a secondary importance. There were other things that mattered more, such as his need for his glasses. He hated not being able to see things clearly. However, there was something that even took precedence over the glasses. Something he had ignored for a bit in order to ensure the security of his book. He couldn't ignore it any longer.
"W-water?" he rasped, his throat aching.
"Of course," Will replied, snatching up the glass on the bedside table. With an extreme amount of care, he lifted his brother's head and held the glass to his lips. The amount of worry and gentleness that Will was exhibiting didn't escape the foggy Jake. It was very off, he knew, for Will to do this. Even when Jake was sick, Will rarely showed this much concern. It simply wasn't in his nature.
The water, though a bit tepid, soothed his throat and cleared his head. Vague memories of burning and breathlessness came within his grasp and he frowned a bit. The recollections weren't at all clear and they confused him more than they helped him remember. Something had happened to make his brother so helpful and him so weak. But what was it?
"Th-thank you," he murmured, as Will helped him lay back once more and set the glass in its place. "Wh-where," his voice cracked and he felt himself flush, "are we?"
Will's brow furrowed and he placed his hand on Jake's forehead. Mumbling something under his breath, he looked on the table for something and in the bowl of water. He didn't find what he was looking for and bent over, searching the floor. A moment or so later, he sat up with the cloth in his hand and wetted it in the bowl. Squeezing the excess water out, he folded it and placed it on Jake's head.
Jake was frustrated that his question was avoided and forced himself to speak. "Wh-where are we, Will?"
Clearly, Will had been hoping that the cloth would fix the question. Jake had to admit that it felt nice but it wasn't bringing his memory back. "You've been very sick, Jake," Will said finally, running a hand through his hair. He still hadn't answered the question. "You had me...I was..." He stopped and looked at the ceiling. "I'm glad you are awake and your fever is down."
It wasn't the words that caused Jake to concentrate on remembering instead of finding an answer to his question. It was the tone that Will used, and his stuttering. It was also the lone tear trickling down Will's face as he focused resolutely on the roof above them. Something bad had happened. Will never behaved this way. He never showed such concern, he never used that tone. He never mother-henned like this either. Concentrating hard and wincing at the headache he had, Jake attempted to recall what had occurred as of late.
He remembered that they were in a village with a cave demon. Vaguely, he recalled fighting with Will over the magic beans comments. He had been sick then, or at least, he thought he was. 'Hidlick was hurt, wasn't he?' he asked himself. 'Yes- that's where it all came from.' From there, for a bit, he could only recall being sick and confused. He remembered being sure that he had seen Lotte and that he had spoken to her. He shuddered a bit at the idea. Had he been so sick that he had been seeing the dead, or had it just been a hallucination?
And then he remembered the monster at the end of the bed. When he was young, it had always been the monster in the chest of drawers or the monster under the bed. But, in his feverish stupor, he had seen the monster standing there, watching him with its glowing eyes and its hooded countenance. It was so vivid a memory amongst those that were limited to feelings and faint images. Again he shook and this time, he closed his eyes, trying to focus on something else. However, what he recalled next was even more frightening. It was the glowing eyes of the young man which had dragged him under coupled with the feeling of suffocation.
"There was somebody here," he whispered, following the words up with a cough. It was painful but not half as bad as he recalled.
Will looked down at him. "Eh?"
"A person, a man... he was here," Jake repeated, hoping his brother could explain it. The eyes were his only clear memory of this man and those eyes still filled him with terror.
"Ah," Will said, comprehension lighting up his face. "The doctor- he was here. But you were unconscious when he came."
Jake opened his eyes. "No," he said. "No, I w-was awake... I s-saw him. He and the th-thing at the end of the bed."
Will shook his head and moved so he was sitting back in the chair. "Jake, you were very ill. You...had some very vivid hallucinations. Whatever was at the end of your bed," he paused for a moment. "It wasn't really there."
"But the doctor was," Jake persisted, turning his head so he could see Will. "Wasn't he?"
For him, if the doctor had been here, then the thing had to have been as well. They were interrelated in his mind. One could not exist without the other. They both possessed those disturbing orbs and the strange ability to chill a person's heart. It was as though one was death and the other was death's messenger.
Will replied, "Yes, he was but you were unconscious by the time he came, Jake," he carted his fingers through his hair again. It was a bad habit. "You haven't been awake any of the times he has come."
It didn't make sense. The only clear memory he had was of the doctor and the doctor's demon. How could it be possible that he could only recall the things that he hallucinated? 'But Lotte is fuzzy in my mind,' he rationalized. 'And she wasn't there, was she?' Any way he looked at it, it didn't make sense. Nothing seemed to fit together and reality was meshing itself with dreams. With a soft groan, he closed his eyes again, this time to fend off the pounding in his head.
He felt the cloth leave his head and be replaced seconds later. It did feel nice but didn't alleviate the headache. He had overdone it, and he was paying the price. Far too much thinking after just waking up after an apparently serious illness; or at least, that was the story he had been told. As much as he loved legends and stories, it bothered him that he couldn't sort out what was true and what wasn't in his own life. He hated being told what had happened to him. It made him feel like he had no control over what occurred.
As tired and confused as he was, he had to figure out one last thing. He knew that he and Will had fought before he had "fallen ill." And he could remember seeing all the anger and frustration Will had felt for years in Will's eyes. What he couldn't remember was them making up. They had to have forgiven each other at some point, or Will wouldn't be giving him this much attention. Not as much as he hated Jake for the mistakes that Jake had made years before.
Or would he? He had seen something in his brother since he had been awake that he had never seen before. It almost seemed plausible that his brother loved him despite what he did. No, that didn't make sense. Not after they fought, not after all the lousy bean comments. There was no way that Will could possibly care this much if they had fought as badly as he thought they had.
He lay there for ages, trying to force himself back into sleep but finding it impossible. He was tired again, over stimulated from all the thinking and recollections. He had no wish to open his eyes and ask Will more questions. That would only lead to more misery and more confusion both of which he had had his fill of for the day. He was dozing when the door opened and there were footsteps echoing on the floor.
"How is he?" a frighteningly familiar voice asked.
"He woke up," Will whispered, his voice content. "He recognized me and only seemed a bit confused. He... doesn't remember much..."
"His fever was very high, Mr. Grimm. As I already told you, it's possible that he might..."
What he might or might not have or do Jake wasn't sure. The voice frightened him but with morbid curiosity, he forced his eyes to open and squinted at the person. It was the same doctor that he remembered, with the dark hair and the sallow face. He wore the tiny glasses and had the bag in his hand. His pale lips had a slight frown upon them and his eyes were focused elsewhere. But Jake could see them, just enough to take in their color.
They were not the same. There was a slightly bloodshot appearance to them, as though he had not slept in a while. 'There must be an epidemic of insomnia going around,' Jake thought. Tiny eyelashes decorated the eyelids and thin eyebrows settled on top of the eyes in a furrowed line. The eyes were small, and a dull shade of grey. They did not glow or strike fear into his heart. No, they looked like average, ordinary eyes.
'I must be going mad,' Jake thought, watching as the doctor set his bag at the end of the bed. 'He is just a normal man.'
Something moved behind the doctor at that moment, something sinister. Once again, Jake felt the frozen feeling creep into his limbs and the breath quicken in his chest. He tried to close his eyes all the way to block it out but he was paralyzed. Standing behind the doctor was the creature, hovering. Its boney hands no longer held the weapon but were instead entwined in the doctor's hair and wrapped around his neck. It watched Jake intently, causing the young man to shudder and let out a small whimper.
"It's alright, Jake," Will comforted, patting his shoulder. "Don't be scared.
The words allowed him to turn his gaze and look at his brother. Immediately the chill lifted and warmth seeped into his skin. The shuddering stopped and the fear fled. Will was there, watching over him, smiling at him; loving him. Loving him; something Jake had been so sure that he couldn't possibly do. But those eyes and that face couldn't be false.
"I'm n-not scared," he whispered, his mind finding some sort of peace. "O-of anything...n-not even... G-godfather Death." And he drifted off into a healing sleep.
Many thanks for reading this! Review please!