Standard Start-of-Fic Disclaimer: I do not own Jane and the Dragon, or any of the characters herein. I receive no compensation for writing works of fanfiction except possibly some nice reviews.
Author's Note: This little plot bunny has been niggling at me for a long time. The entire thing, the entire thing, takes place on a battlefield where Jane lies injured; I just found myself wanting to do a really, really in-depth exploration into what her thought process would be as she waits to be found, and then after she is. I took the title from a song, but the fic really doesn't have anything to with it, well other than that Jane is in the process of dying young... maybe. Haven't really made up my mind on that point yet, whether the ending will be tragic or hopeful, so feedback in the form of reviews is warmly encouraged! ;)
Find me. Find me. Oh God, Gunther, please find me. I do not want to die alone. I do not... want...
I am lying twisted, half on my back and half on my side, my legs hooked up and over the torso of one fallen foe, my head cushioned on the lower leg of another. Most of my field of vision is taken up by this dead man's boot. my sword lies, glimmering dully, just inches from the fingertips of my right hand, but I cannot reach it. Even if I could, I would not be able to use it. My arm is broken, probably in more places than one. It feels like lead. Lifting it would be as impossible as... as impossible as...
I lose some time.
Gunther... find me... Gunther... please...
I blink my eyes slowly open. I cannot remember them having fallen shut. The sun is in a different position in the sky. The sounds of battle being waged all around me have faded. They are still there, but distant now. Closer at hand are the moans and cries of the wounded, the dying... those left behind, like me. The fighting has moved on.
How much time have I lost? Thirst is raging through me. My throat feels scraped raw, and on fire, at the same time. I have never experienced thirst like this. It is torture. I pull in a grating breath. Close my eyes for a moment. Open them. Exhale. This boot, this God forsaken boot that is the only thing I can see clearly from where I lie. It is filthy, crusted with mud.
Gunther, Gunther, I have loved you for so long. I am sorry, so sorry Gunther, that I never had the courage to tell you. Please, Gunther, please find me. I do not want to die at seventeen. I do not want to die staring at this dirty boot.
I lose more time.
"...Jane! Jane! Jane, JANE!"
The voice is distant, but it is his. My breath catches in my throat. He is alive. He is alive. He is presumably on his feet. And he is looking for me. Oh, thank you. Thank you, God, thank you.
"Jane! Jane! JANE!" His voice is painfully hoarse, and it breaks on this last shout of my name. He lapses into a jagged coughing fit. Despite the million ways in which I am hurting myself, I ache to take that pain away from him. He sounds beyond awful. What if he is hurt almost as badly as I am? What if he is not walking or running as he searches for me, but staggering? Reeling? Crawling? What if he... what if he...
I lose more time.
And Dragon. Where is Dragon? Why is he not also looking for me? Calling for me? Flying above? He would never... never not look for me... never... unless... unless... no. Will not think about that. Will not. Will not. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
I lose more time.
"Jane!" He sounds as if he is crying. "JANE!" He also sounds, I realize despairingly, as if he is getting further away from me instead of closer. The light is long and golden now. It is remarkable that he is still searching at all. But then, what if our roles were reversed? How long would I search for him?
Until I found him. Until I found him. Period.
So perhaps not so utterly remarkable after all.
"Gunther!" In my mind it is a shout, but the only sound that passes my cracked lips is a parched, unlovely croak; a sound so weak I can barely hear it myself. "Gunther," I try again, but now the name is a bare whisper; no more. I am frantic to attract his attention, yet helpless to do so. Why, why is he straying farther and farther away? Why has he not seen me? I have not always loved the unusual and striking color of my hair but surely in a situation such as this it must serve as an asset, an advantage. It must call attention to me. It must...
Oh, God. How could I have forgotten? The helmet. I put it on for battle. I did not really want to, but... but Sir Theodore, he said... and then Gunther, Gunther even gave it a playful rap with his knuckles once I had... had snugged it into place. I did not want to, but I put it on. It is on still.
I have to get it off. It is a heavy thing. I cannot believe I had forgotten it was there. I must be far gone indeed. Can I get it off one-handed? Well, I have little choice but to try. Left in place, it condemns me. It has to come off. Then maybe Gunther - or someone, anyone - (but please, God, please let it be Gunther, unless it can be Dragon, but Dragon would have found me by now, so if it cannot be Dragon, then let it be Gunther) - will see.
I drag up the hand that is attached to my uninjured arm; it is shaking. Until this moment, I had had it pressed against the gash in my side; a gash that is shallow but has bled quite profusely. My fingertips are scarlet, and slippery with blood. This complicates matters even further. Who would have imagined that an act as theoretically simple as removing a helmet would end up demanding levels of strength and coordination that feel, under the circumstances, nearly superhuman?
The helm is dented on one side, too, near my left temple, where I took a pretty good blow; that was what ultimately laid me out, I think. I think... but it is hazy and difficult to pin down, exactly. Gash to my side, broken arm, blow to the head; yes, I think that these, my three major injuries, occurred in that order, but... but...
Am I sure? No. It may have been gash to the side, blow to the head, broken arm... or maybe...
God, does it matter? No! Focus, Jane. Focus, please. I feel on the verge of drifting away again. I have to do this first.
I grip the edge of the helmet and tug. It takes nearly more out of me, than is left in me to give. I have to raise my head a little too; it nearly undoes me. But in the end, I pry it off. My hair spills free; an unmistakable, copper-bright wave. It practically screams color against the backdrop of the battlefield, which is all dark, churned mud; dark clothing, dark boots, and the brackish purple of congealing blood. Here and there is a spark of silver; a sword, a shield, a bit of armor glinting against the general muck. There is nothing else, however, that even remotely resembles the shade of my hair. In this matter, at least, I am confident.
Let it be my beacon. Let it be my flare. Please. Please. Let it call out to him. Because I cannot. I am so tired... so tired...
My fingers, nerveless, relax their grasp on the helmet's rim and let it settle in the mud. I lack the strength to move my hand all the way back down my body to apply pressure to the wound. I let it rest beside my head, palm open, fingers curled just ever so slightly skyward. This is all right, now. I have done what I could to make myself visible. He will either find me now, or he will not. Either way, it is out of my hands.
It is funny, I have seen Rake and Pepper's two-year-old daughter, Rose, fall asleep in nearly this same position, numerous times; splayed on her back, sometimes nearly sideways across her little bed, occasionally even with her chubby legs hooked up over a pillow in much the same way that mine are currently hooked up over this corpse. Hand flung up and come to rest beside her face in just this artless way. It always struck me as a wonderfully, whimsically innocent and childlike pose.
Do I look like a child, drifting off to sleep? I doubt it. I probably look like a horror. I certainly feel like a horror. And yet, I am hoping against hope, hoping so hard, that he will find me here. It is selfish, I know. I should not wish for him to see me in this state. I know it will be upsetting for him... at least, I think I know it will. It would certainly kill me to find him so.
But I hope it all the same. So that I may see him again. That is my selfish wish. To see him again. Even if only one more time. Even if only for a moment.
"Gunther. Gunther." I whisper it over and over again, staring at my bloodied fingers, until they begin to shimmer and waver before my eyes. I blink and they seem to double; again, and they seem to triple. I realize with a sort of distant, weary surprise, that I am crying; the tears cutting hot tracks through what is probably an admirable coating of grime on my face. I would not have thought I had it left in me to cry.
I should stop. Crying demands energy. Energy I do not have to spare.
I swallow hard. But the tears want to flow. They are fighting me. I gulp in a deep breath, intending to brace myself against them; but the rush of oxygen is too heady, too intense. The world begins to spin; slowly first, then faster. My own sick gasp of protest is the last thing I hear before -
I lose more time.