Author's notes: Hey ya'll, here's another new chapter for everyone to enjoy.
I know I promised to have the fic completed by the weekend, but writing chapter nine is turning out a little harder than I expected.
I'm going to try and get it done today, but after that I'll be off-line for a few days due to the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Hopefully, I'll be back next week with at least one new chapter for y'all.
I'd like to thank Gin for her review and her awesome beta'ing through out. You're a star, and I don't know what I'd do without you. In addition, thanks to Angela for her review too, I'm pleased you're enjoying the story so much.
Without a second's hesitation, Richard and Jeanie dressed and raced back to the camp as quick as humanly possible. Neither spoke a word to each other, and both were secretly scared what they'd discover once they returned.
However, when they got to the area that they had made home for the past few days, they found it just as they'd left it. Most people were napping, and the few others sat chatting around the empty fire.
As Jeanie stumbled to her tent - her heart beating so hard in her chest she thought it would break - Richard scanned the area for anything out of place,
"Is everyone ok?" he asked, taking a few steps forwards to where Jayne sat talking to Aldo.
"Yeah, why wouldn't we be?" Jayne replied, a look of confusion on her face.
"No reason, I was just asking," Richard meekly said, feeling foolish for worrying so much. He returned to where Jeanie had collapsed outside their tent. If Jayne's reassurance that everyone was ok had calmed him, then the look in Jeanie's eyes – when he returned to their own tent - only served to refuel his fears.
Her eyes had glazed over again, and she was silently rocking back and forth on the spot. She wasn't speaking a word, yet her lips moved as if she was muttering.
Richard had never seen her like this and it scared the hell out of him. For as long as they'd known each other, he'd seen displays of her powers, yet she always seemed in control of them. However, now Jeanie looked almost like a different person. The warmness and love had drained out of her face, and she appeared cold, distant and slightly frightening.
He was apprehensive of her for a moment, scared she might lash out at him. Nevertheless, Richard managed to push his fears aside, and sat besides her, brushing a lock of hair from her face.
Jeanie didn't even flinch at his touch, her eyes starting to roll back in her head, before she lost consciousness completely and collapsed to the floor.
Jeanie had been living at the camp besides the Temple for six months, and she was just beginning to get use to it, when one day everything changed.
Since the purge, she'd moved to the Hostiles camp, and found it very easy to settle in. Having her own small tent had given her independence she'd never experienced with her parents, and she'd even managed to make a number of friends.
Obviously, she was closest to Richard and spent much of her time with him. However, being originally from Dharma she'd also forged a strong bond with Ben, and when Richard had to go away to attend to something, she sought the company of the man who was now like a brother to her. In addition, Jeanie had also formed friendships with a few of the women, including Jayne, Sabine and Diane.
Therefore, when Richard had returned from a meeting with the elders of the camp, Jeanie was upset by his announcement. They'd decided it best to move to the barracks and make that their new home. Jeanie hated the idea; she loved the peacefulness of the jungle and the barracks only served as a horrible memory of her life with her parents.
Apparently, the elders felt some changes needed to be made and moving to somewhere more civilized was a step in the right direction. In addition, there were things that needed to be researched properly, and the Dharma barracks, as well as the various stations, offered them the technology they needed.
Jeanie knew little about what the elders did or researched, so the explanation meant nothing to her. However, she was truly grateful to have been given the chance to escape her hellish life, and didn't want to appear to be ungrateful. Therefore, after some persuasion and reassurance, Jeanie agreed to the move.
The day of the move came, and both Jeanie and Ben had heavy hearts; both dreading returning to their former homes. As expected, neither of them moved into the houses that they'd once lived in, leaving them to be taken by other people in the group, while they themselves opted for a new start.
'You know, I can't set foot in that place without picturing my dad there,' Ben sighed, as Jeanie helped him carry a box of his belongings into his new bedroom.
'I know what you mean. I took a look around my old house last night, and it brought back so many bad memories that I just had to get out of there,' agreed Jeanie, as she absent mindedly began to unpack his things. She stopped herself instantly, realising what an invasion of privacy it was. 'I'm sorry...I just well...you know.'
Ben smiled, and took the carved wooden doll from her. 'It's ok, Jeanie, I trust you enough to let you help me unpack,' he replied.
She smiled back at him'You know, the doll would look good on that dresser,' she suggested
Ben caressed the figure one more time, before setting it down where Jeanie had suggested.
'Which house have you decided to take?' he asked.
'I haven't yet,' she said, absent mindedly lifting a pile of books from the box and placing them on a nearby shelf. 'This is going to sound silly, but I…well I hoped. You know what? Forget it, I'm just being silly.'
Ben smiled at her with a knowing look, 'You know, it is ok to admit how you feel about him?'
Jeanie sighed, impressed that Ben knew her well enough to know what she was thinking. The truth was, since agreeing to the move, she'd been contemplating her relationship with Richard. She secretly feared he didn't see it as serious as she did. Maybe he thought she was too young to have a real relationship with.
'Well you won't know until you ask him, will you?' Ben said, and he wondered if she was indeed the only telepath in the room.
'And what if he doesn't?' she asked, her voice breaking with fear.
'Jeanie, if there's one thing the purge taught me, it's that you don't get anything without asking for it. A way out of our hellish lives didn't just appear in our laps, did it? We both had to prove to Richard and the others that we were the right people to join them. Beside, what do you have to lose?'
She pondered Ben's suggestion for a few minutes, weighing up the consequences in her mind of telling Richard how she felt, of admitting she wanted things to progress between them.
Finally, she replied, 'You know, Ben, I think you're right. If I never ask him, I'll never know and just live to regret it.'
'Exactly. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say,' agreed Ben, taking the last of the box's contents from Jeanie, a small framed picture of his mother.
'Thank you,' she said, placing her hand lightly on his arms. 'I know we don't have our families anymore, but we'll always have each other.'
Richard lifted Jeanie gently off the ground and carried her inside their tent. He was now beyond worried. Her skin felt clammy and her breathing was irregular. He cursed inwardly, praying to everyone and no one that she'd be all right. He wasn't a man of faith, but a man of facts. However, he'd happily start believing in pink elephants walking through the jungle if Jeanie was ok. He couldn't lose her.
He waited, silently stroking her hair, as Jeanie's breathing lapsed back into normality and her forehead cooled. Just as he was about to go and fetch some water, her eyes flickered open.
"Ben?" she said in a horse whisper.
Richard was momentarily offended that it'd been the name of their leader, and not his that she'd called out, until he felt a presence behind him.
Turning, Richard came face to face with Ben, and he knew this time that the man before him wasn't a vision, but the real person.