Not Asleep – Survivors Missing Scene
Summary: Marguerite's admission about not being asleep the whole time sparks speculation about what she meant.
Disclaimer: "The Lost World" belongs to the Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the television show on which this fanfiction is based is the property of Coote/Hayes, The Over the Hill Gang, New Line Television, et al. Copyright and credit for these characters belongs to them, not to this ficscribbler.
Spoilers: Season 2, Episode 18 "Survivors". This missing scene takes place during the commercial break after Roxton, Malone and Veronica see the spirits flying out of the temple, and before the final scene back in the tree house that night between Challenger and Marguerite.
The trio's relieved and exultant cries at the sight of the exiting apparitions were still ringing in the air when Roxton charged eagerly up the incline toward the temple's entrance, this time without Ned and Veronica giving chase to stop him.
The younger adults exchanged grins as they followed at a pace more suited to the journalist's wounded chest, which was still throbbing from his overexertion the last time Roxton had made a break for the temple; the newly-healing flesh had nearly torn open again when Ned had moved too quickly, worried that Roxton's rash behavior was going to ruin Challenger's plan. As loyal as the nobleman was to the scientist, he was undoubtedly even more concerned about the usually redoubtable Miss Krux. While his worries about her were often shrugged off by the others, this time there was good reason for his unease. Marguerite's fragile condition had frightened each of her housemates. Roxton might be yelling George's name as he disappeared into the temple, but neither Ned nor Veronica had any doubt that it was Marguerite he was more anxious to see.
With the crisis apparently over, the reporter voiced the question utmost in his mind even as he carefully maneuvered down the steep steps into the ancient passageway in Roxton's wake. "Say, what do you think Marguerite was talking about when she said she wasn't asleep the whole time?"
Veronica shrugged, warily eyeing the Guardian's images on the wall as they neared the bottom of the stairs, confirming that the inhuman warriors were firmly in place. "I don't have any idea what she was referring to, but it looked like Roxton understood her," she said, recalling how the brunette's tentative words had instantly affected the hunter, eliminating his objections to staying behind. Seeing that the group's self-proclaimed protector was already out of sight down the passage, charging ahead at full speed, she increased the pace to a slow jog – just in case their friends were still in any kind of danger – while keeping a discreet eye on Ned to ensure that it wasn't too much for his already-strained body. "It was like all the fight went right out of Roxton, wasn't it? Well, for a few minutes anyway," she added, scowling at the memory of the usually-well-disciplined hunter's abnormal loss of control and excessive anger after they'd allowed their enemies to pass unscathed into the temple. "I thought I was going to have to take him down to make sure he let Challenger do what he needed to do."
The American chuckled, cautiously matching her stride while they navigated the winding passages toward the central chamber on the lower level. "Yeah, he sure turned aggressive again once she was out of his sight. I know Roxton's very dedicated to protecting Challenger, too, but I don't think that's who he was so up in arms about. I don't get it; what does he see in her?" He'd wanted to ask her this for a while now, curious about Veronica's perceptions of the older couple and their relationship.
His companion shrugged again, giving him a rueful grin. "I've wondered the same thing. It's not like there aren't plenty of other beautiful women on the Plateau, but even if they catch his eye he still always goes back to Marguerite. It's weird, because there are times I'd swear he's fed up with her antics and is ready to wash his hands of her, and then the next thing I know he's right back to flirting with her."
Ned followed her around a corner into another intersecting passageway and marveled again at her incredible sense of direction; he'd have been lost long before they got this far. "Well, Roxton's a hunter. Maybe it's the thrill of the hunt that keeps him interested?"
The young blonde considered that and cast him an approving grin; it was such an obvious possibility that she was surprised she'd missed it. "That's one I hadn't thought of, but it makes sense. I wouldn't put it past Marguerite to know it, too, and to use his instincts to keep him hooked."
He nodded his agreement. "Do you think she's really interested in him, or is she just toying with him?"
By then they could hear their friends' voices up ahead – well, not Marguerite's, but Challenger's excited tones and Roxton's slower rumbling replies. Since neither man's tone was anxious or terse, Veronica slowed to a walk. "I used to think she didn't care a lick for anyone other than herself, but the longer we've lived with her, the more I've wondered if she's just really good at hiding how she truly feels about anything – except about being filthy rich, of course." They exhaled identical exasperated sighs, then exchanged sympathetic grins before she continued, "This thing between her and Roxton…" She glanced away from the attractive American, realizing there was no way she could admit just how closely she'd watched the older couple. He'd want to know why, and she couldn't admit she'd been seeking ideas on how she should interact with him to show him she'd be interested in more than mere friendship with him. "Well, I just can't tell what she wants from him," she admitted. "She's difficult to read."
Ned snorted. "I'll say!"
But when they entered the spacious chamber a moment later, it wasn't difficult at all to see that the Marguerite wasn't well. The dark-haired woman was seated on the lowest step of another entrance to the chamber, slightly hunched as if she was chilled, her eyes closed as she leaned listlessly against the rock wall.
On the other hand, a single glance was all it took to see that Challenger was already almost back to being his usual inexhaustible self. He and Roxton were working together to unhook and gather the cables strung from the altar to the walls. Challenger couldn't stop talking about the visual and physical effects of the equipment he'd cobbled together to set up the resonating harmonics that had exorcised the trapped spirits. Other than the bandage on his hand, he seemed wholly recovered from his brush with death.
Roxton was nodding and mumbling responses to George's narration, but he was distracted by his concern for Marguerite's condition. Her strength clearly hadn't returned like George's, perhaps because she'd been injured more severely to begin with, or perhaps because more of her life energy had been drained due to her longer exposure to the essence-stealing "ghosts". Whatever the reason, it looked like she'd used up the reserve of energy had carried her from the tree house to the temple.
Ned continued to cross toward the other men while Veronica veered toward Marguerite. She paused only to scoop up the jewelry still lying on the cavern floor where the false Adrienne had been disembodied. The fact that their owner hadn't yet retrieved her property was absolute proof that all was not well with the overly-possessive brunette.
Veronica squatted before her most troublesome housemate and placed the handful of necklaces, bracelets and rings on her lap.
Marguerite slowly opened her eyes and glanced down, but didn't reach for the jewelry. Her face didn't light up, either, as it usually did at the sight of anything sparkly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Here, drink some water." She unstrapped her water skin and held it out.
Marguerite accepted it with a hand that trembled visibly, sat up straighter with effort, and drank deeply. A hint of color touched her pale cheeks. She summoned a smile as she returned the leather bag to the younger woman.
"Better?" she asked, keenly noting that Marguerite still hadn't touched the ornaments Adrienne had appropriated from her. Veronica saw the way the woman's gaze skittered toward the men before returning to her as she nodded. "Good." She glanced over her shoulder in time to catch a concerned look from Roxton, and turned again to find that the brunette was once more leaning against the wall with her eyes closed and her hands folded over her abdomen, well away from the jewelry.
Hmm… avoiding both her precious belongings and Lord Roxton. Veronica thought back to the cryptic words that had stopped Roxton in his tracks, about not having been asleep the whole time. What she'd told Ned was true; she found it difficult to read Marguerite most of the time. But Veronica's full attention had been on the brunette when those words were spoken, and there'd been an unusual vulnerability in Marguerite's expression as she conveyed that private message… something offered when she'd thought there was a chance she might not survive, most likely about their relationship, based on how Roxton had reacted. Veronica glanced speculatively over her shoulder, and Roxton was looking their way again with obvious longing to be at Marguerite's side instead of with the men.
Could Marguerite's current pallor and lethargic behavior be partly due to regret for that message to Roxton now that she'd survived? Considering how often in the last two years she'd observed the older woman suddenly and deliberately alienate him for no apparent reason… it was entirely probable that she'd do the same thing now. While she was usually perfectly willing to flirt, she'd consistently shied away from any meaningful development in their relationship.
Well, it would be interesting to see how she got herself out of this one, Veronica decided. If she could judge by Roxton's earlier bemused reaction to Marguerite's words, the brunette had just given him more encouragement than she knew how to handle. Testing her theory, Veronica whispered, "It wasn't easy to keep him from coming after you too soon."
Marguerite's jaw clenched and without opening her eyes she muttered under her breath, "He has no sense of self-preservation."
Grinning to herself at this characteristic response, the blonde rose to her feet, leaving Marguerite to recoup her strength, or to plot how to extricate herself from Roxton's attentions… or maybe both, since she seemed genuinely exhausted.
Assured that Marguerite was at least well enough to gripe about her suitor, Veronica set about helping the men repack Challenger's gadgets so they could get out of this place.
As soon as she neared the tall nobleman he turned toward her and asked quietly, "How is she?"
The short answer didn't satisfy him, but before he could press for more information Challenger clapped him on the shoulder. "Just that last one over there, and we'll have everything," he said.
Roxton nodded and reluctantly moved in the indicated direction.
Veronica was surprised when the scientist lowered his voice and asked, "How is she?"
"Um… resting," she repeated. She frowned in Marguerite's direction, noting that the jewelry still lay untouched in her lap, and she seemed to be asleep. "You think we should be worried?" she asked. George was usually oblivious to the condition of others unless it directly affected him, or until it was pointed out to him, so if he was asking…?
"Yes, I believe her condition warrants our concern," Challenger said bluntly. "I haven't said as much to Roxton, but it's my opinion that only adrenalin carried her through thus far. I observed that her energy was diminishing again even before our final confrontation with those two spectral manifestations. I suspect it may take her longer to recover, since she was much more affected by our malady than I."
The blonde nodded slowly. "You think she's still in danger?"
His ginger brows flew upward. "Oh goodness, no! I beg your pardon, Veronica. I didn't intent to convey that impression at all! Other than the usual healing time for the injuries she sustained in her fall into the pit, she should be fine by tonight. The journey home, however, will probably be beyond her strength, and I doubt she will accept our coddling. I'm quite sure there's no danger." He patted her shoulder apologetically. "I was merely attempting to convey the need to set an appropriate pace for Marguerite's condition."
Veronica smiled up at him, amused at his distress over his miscommunication. "Ah, I see. Thank you, Professor. I'll keep an eye on her."
"Good," he smiled, satisfied. "I'm sure Roxton will appreciate anything we can do to make it a little easier for him to look after her," his squinted across the cavern to where the slender brunette still slouched in slumber. "Especially since she's bound to resist his attempts so soon after what she said to him before we entered the temple."
Surprised again, the jungle girl stared up at him. He'd noticed that?
He chuckled at her expression. "What? I see more than you youngsters think I do," he declared with a waggle of his brows and a smug smirk, and then strolled off to confirm that Ned was correctly packing the last of his instruments.
Veronica laughed quietly to herself. Would wonders never cease?
It wasn't much longer before everything was tidied and it was time to head home to the tree house. They all hesitated to wake Marguerite, but she stirred, as if sensing their regard, and when she saw that they were ready to go she gathered her jewelry with one swoop of her hand and rose to her feet, too. She slipped the jewelry into her pocket without a single glance.
"Ready to go?" Roxton asked gruffly, careful not to look solely in Marguerite's direction but to include the others in his question. He was as aware as the others that she was likely to resist anything he offered right now.
"Definitely! This place gives me the creeps," Ned curled his lip as he stared at the walls with their silvery streaks of ore. "I'm looking forward to some fresh air again."
Well aware that Roxton's green eyes were repeatedly flitting over her, Marguerite responded firmly, "The sooner the better."
"Then follow me," Veronica took the lead. Ned shouldered a leather bag and followed her. Challenger and Roxton each hoisted one of the remaining bags, but the nobleman waited for Marguerite to precede him out of the chamber before bringing up the rear.
To his relief, she seemed to have regained some strength. She made it through the upward incline of the passageways without any trouble. But they were barely out of sight of the temple entrance when his fears were confirmed that she'd never make it back to the tree house under her own steam. She was breathing deeply and steadily, pacing herself, yet even so her steps were beginning to drag already. He studied Veronica's almost-lazy stroll, and realized she knew Marguerite was lagging, too. If the blonde moved any slower, they'd have to walk through the worst of the midday heat. Nonetheless, it wouldn't be long before it wasn't slow enough for Marguerite.
Unfortunately, after publicly revealing earlier that she'd heard what he'd said to her when he'd thought she was asleep, Marguerite was likely to be so skittish that she would refuse an offer of assistance even from the others, let alone from him – no matter how much she needed it.
Before he'd quite decided on a plan of attack, Malone turned aside and waited for Challenger and Marguerite to pass before falling into step alongside him. Recognizing the curious glint in the younger man's sky blue eyes, he braced himself. He suspected he already knew what Ned wanted to ask him about.
Sure enough, the writer gestured to the brunette ahead of them and said, "What did Marguerite mean, she wasn't asleep the whole time?"
Roxton saw Marguerite's shoulders stiffen, and knew she'd heard the reporter's question despite Ned's attempt to speak quietly.
Well, here was a chance to reinforce the fragile trust she was slowly granting to him. "I was thinking about that myself," he said thoughtfully. Keeping one eye on her dragging footsteps to judge her waning strength, he composed an answer honest enough to satisfy Ned without revealing the whole truth. "You know, she tried to tell us something wasn't right about Adrienne before we even left the temple. She probably knew by then that she was far weaker than she should have been from relatively minor injuries. I think she was playing possum." Ned was a bright lad; that should be enough for his imagination to fill in the rest. Moreover, it steered the insightful journalist away from any consideration that there'd been a personal, more intimate aspect to what Marguerite had said.
Sure enough, Ned considered Roxton's answer and then nodded, impressed. "She was making them think she wasn't a threat, so maybe they'd let down their guard and talk openly. That's how she knew they were draining her and the Professor?"
The hunter nodded. That was definitely one of the possibilities he'd considered since she'd taken the wind from his sails with her admission. "I think she was probably also conserving what strength she still had left for when we needed to take action. I think that's how she made the march over here pretty much on her own power."
"Smart," Ned approved. "I should've known she was working an angle. She's always on top of the game, even when she's hurt. So what she said to you: she was letting you know that she'd found out how to stop them and that you could trust her and Challenger to handle it?"
"Well, as you've said before," Roxton said softly, pleased at both Ned's misinterpretation and the younger man's statement of his own unvoiced opinion of Marguerite's skill, "She's probably the toughest of us." It'd be best not to address the rest of Ned's assumption.
Blushing faintly at the fact that his friend had thought his previously-expressed opinion worthy of note, Ned nodded, but tilted his fair head toward the topic of their conversation. He lowered his voice even further. "But maybe not today, eh? Think she'll let us help her?"
The hunter, too, had seen the slender woman stumble and catch herself. "Not as long as she can still take another step on her own," he growled, then deliberately raised his voice so she'd know he meant her to hear his next words. "But I'm sure she's aware that we're here for her whenever she says the word."
Without turning, she half-heartedly waved a hand that acknowledged hearing him while simultaneously brushing aside his offer.
Ned chuckled at the characteristic gesture and, satisfied with Roxton's answers to his question, sped up to join Challenger ahead of Marguerite, where he promptly requested clarification of George's earlier vibrant account of the happenings in the cavern.
As the scientist's voice promptly rose in enthusiastic reply, Veronica cast a half-exasperated, half amused look over her shoulder. "Professor Challenger! A little less volume, if you please. Predators," she reminded.
He cooperatively lowered his volume, but otherwise kept right on talking.
Roxton stepped up alongside Marguerite so he'd be close enough to catch her when and if she failed to regain her balance. He was just in time to hear her soft chuckle. "Only a reporter could ask a question like that and be glad to hear the whole answer," she said dryly – but so quietly that the others weren't even aware that she'd spoken. Then she stumbled again.
He watched her right herself once more, noting her self-conscious flush and the glance she cast at him – as if she suspected her might mock her clumsiness. Much to his chagrin there was some justification for this, since he'd frequently vented his irritation with her lesser-honed trail skills in retaliation for her needling. It had been unfair of him, and he'd known it at the time. He'd been trying for years to overcome his habit of spouting spiteful things in his anger; he inevitably regretted it. Well, it was past time to make up for it.
Contritely, he offered his arm. "Might the lady accept my humble escort?" he asked with a lopsided grin and a half bow.
She hesitated, continuing her unsteady gait as he walked along beside her.
As if he could read her mind, he added, "It's a conversation-free invitation, milady."
Her gaze flew to his, startled, but she quickly looked away again, uncertain what to make of the tender warmth in his handsome, expressive face. First he'd parried Ned's prying query as neatly as she could've done herself – and so complimentarily to her, too! – and now he was willing to forgo discussing her revelation about the one-sided conversation she'd let him carry on without revealing that she could hear him?
After a brief silence she glanced sideways at him again. "I suppose if I don't accept your escort…," she curled her lip to make it plan exactly how she viewed giving in and leaning on his strength, "you'll pepper me with questions."
His brows rose. "No. I'll wait a few minutes and make the same offer again."
The wary brunette stopped walking and faced him, staring up at him with a disbelieving frown, clearly taken aback at his reply.
"I'm not trying to force you to do anything, Marguerite," he said patiently. "You've been through a lot in the last few days. I know you're a private person and you'll want time to think all this through. I hope you'll choose to talk to me about what's happened… you know… when you're ready. Until then all I have to say is that you should remember that the Adrienne that came home with us from that temple wasn't the real Adrienne. So when you're thinking about what's happened, don't let it color your memories of your friend. From the little you've told me about her, it sounds like the real Adrienne was a good friend to you, and I wouldn't want that memory tarnished for you."
She stared up at him, wide-eyed and at a complete loss for words for a long moment before she abruptly looked away. She swallowed hard and said huskily, "Yes, well… Thank you. I'll keep that in mind, Lord Roxton."
Oh how he wished he had been wrong about that particular possibility, but apparently he'd been right to risk voicing the suggestion. Not only would it encourage her to remember her real friend separately from the fake, but he'd shown her again that he was capable of offering supportive friendship. Judging by her reaction, she genuinely appreciated it. Now would definitely be a good time to make that next offer. "Meanwhile," he said casually, "I'm available for whatever you want or need. It's what friends do." He presented his arm again, and inclined his head in a respectful bow.
Marguerite regarded him with a mixture of wistfulness and suspicion, but after an indecisive moment she slowly slipped her hand into place and allowed him to guide her along the trail after the others.
More than half an hour of silent and, thanks to his steadfast support, relatively steady walking had passed before she looked up at him again. "You're really not going to say anything about me letting you ramble on without giving you fair warning that I could hear you?"
He cast her a lopsided grin and shook his head. "You had your reasons."
Her brow puckered. "Yes, I heard what you said to Ned. I'm glad you understand why I did it, John, but still… It wasn't fair not to warn you…" her voice trailed off.
Ah, so his speculation had been right! She really had been playing possum at least part of the time they'd thought she was asleep! And apparently her purpose had truly been to spy out what Adrienne was up to, and to conserve her fading energy, just as he and Ned had postulated! That was his lady, deviously deceptive in pursuit of her safety and the safety of her friends! Even better, she'd not only confirmed that his supposition was spot on, but she'd actually brought up the real issue without any of her usual avoidance or denial! She'd just admitted – twice! – that she'd heard what he'd said while she was pretending to sleep! As Marguerite was fond of saying, could this day get any better?
"Roxton," she said faintly, suddenly leaning much more heavily on his arm.
He caught her as she collapsed, cursing himself for a fool as he scooped her into his arms. He should've noticed! He should've realized something was wrong when she voluntarily brought up a topic she'd usually have shunned like the plague! He should've insisted sooner that she give up this absurd persistence on being independent when she obviously needed help. She was as white as a sheet! If he'd been paying closer attention, if he'd provided her with more balance – she was unconscious again when if he'd done what he ought instead of indulging her pride, she might have been awake so they could continue the conversation.
Blast! Another chance lost! And at her expense!
Veronica, ever aware of her surroundings, turned back as she heard the change in the footsteps following hers, and stopped as she saw Marguerite clasped in his arms. "Is she out?" she called.
"Completely!" he grimly called back.
"Then let's get her home where she can rest properly," the blonde decreed, and added, "We're not really too far away now. Ned, you take rearguard since Roxton has his hands full."
Ned bit back a laugh and obeyed. "Shall I take your rifle, old boy?" he grinned as he came even with the hunter.
Roxton scowled, but grunted his reluctant permission. He'd never get it into play anyway, with her in his arms. He strode ahead, determined to get his burden to safety as soon as possible. If her health was seriously affected by his foolish decision not to force her to accept help, he'd never forgive himself. On the positive side, now that she was out cold, they could make up some of the time they'd lost by accommodating her.
Challenger fell into step beside him as their small column once again moved forward, much more rapidly this time. "She'll be fine, John," he assured the tense younger man. "You'll see. By tonight she'll be her usual self again."
Looking down at the insensible woman cradled in his arms, Lord Roxton could only hope George was right again. Of course, if she was back to her usual self, hell would probably have to freeze over before she willingly finished their conversation about what he'd said to her while she'd been feigning sleep.
Maybe he should try talking to her more often when she appeared to be asleep. The wayward thought left him grinning to himself as he considered the likely outcome if he ever woke her from genuine slumber. No, it was probably better to stick with talking to her when she was clearly awake, preferably with a cup of coffee in hand.
Still smirking ruefully to himself, he marched on a few feet behind Veronica's vanguard. He carefully considered their brief conversation, analyzing the possible ramifications of what had been said and what had been left unspoken. By the time he'd gone over it a dozen times, they were in home territory and he'd decided that although she'd probably distance herself from him for at least a little while, the bottom line wasn't so bad. Regardless of whether Marguerite ever admitted again that she'd heard him, he'd all but told her that he loved her, and she hadn't out-and-out rejected him. Therefore this whole misadventure had been another step forward, and he was that much closer to winning the woman whose well-being had become immeasurably important to him... provided she woke up again, of course.
Speaking of which… He glanced down at his fragile armful as the tree house came into view. Thankfully, there was now a faint rosy tint to her fair skin. He drew a deep breath of relief as he realized that once again Challenger had been correct; all she'd needed was some solid rest instead of pushing herself beyond endurance. After only a relatively minor amount of sleep she already looked much better, and there were still several hours in which she could nap before dinner. By tonight she'd be her usual indolently graceful, infuriating self.
Roxton grinned, finally relaxing as the group moved toward the gate and the safety of the tree house compound. His grin widened to a full-blown smile as he contemplated the challenge he'd no doubt face once Marguerite realized she'd given him genuine reason to hope; she'd do her best to take back the ground she'd inadvertently yielded to him, but that wouldn't change the undeniable fact that Marguerite Krux had heard him confess his true feelings for her while she was "not asleep" and she had neither argued about it nor insulted him. All she'd said was that it hadn't been fair of her not to warn him.
Mindful of his footing, he glanced down at the beautiful woman slumbering securely in his arms. Truth be told, her words were quite encouraging; she must have been thinking about all of this, too, as they walked along. Her strength had been ebbing away, and instead of worrying about herself, her last conscious thoughts had been about what he might think of her for not telling him she'd been awake.
It was yet another proof that while she wasn't willing to admit it yet, he was well on his way to winning her.
Lord Roxton bore his precious burden up on the lift, carried her to her bedroom, waited while Veronica turned down the covers, and gently lay her on the mattress so as not to jostle her.
Veronica carefully tugged off Marguerite's boots and set them at the foot of the bed as Roxton drew the blanket up and tucked their patient in securely. Then, as she noticed him lingering, she discreetly left the room.
The hunter removed his hat, leaned down, and pressed a soft kiss to Marguerite's forehead. "Sleep well, my queen," he whispered before he straightened. He watched her for another minute, wondering if she was pretending but seeing no hint that she wasn't sound asleep. Finally he turned and exited the chamber. There was quite a mess upstairs to clean up, thanks to their unwelcome guests. He could already hear the others at work sorting through the debris.
As his footsteps sounded on the curved staircase, Marguerite drowsily tugged the jumbled pieces of jewelry from her pocket. Reaching out and dropping them onto the nightstand left almost no energy to drag the blanket higher over her shoulders as she turned and curled up on her side, but the increased warmth and comfort were worth the effort. Her lips curved slowly upward as she recalled his kiss and the tender care in his tone of voice; John really is the most adorable man, she thought, and she let herself drift back to sleep.