Chapter 1: Dreams
"Where is it?" Marguerite wondered as she searched her room again. It was late and she couldn't sleep. She had been searching since she had turned in for the night. Her belongings were strewn everywhere.
She stood in the middle of her room, "Bloody hell," she murmured as she walked towards the bed. In frustration she kicked her boots out of the way.
"Damnit!" she swore as she sat down to look at her foot. Kicking her boots barefoot was not the smartest thing to do.
"Marguerite, I thought you had gone to sleep," she heard just outside her room.
"May I come in?" Roxton asked
Roxton entered her room and was surprised by how untidy it was. Normally Marguerite's room was immaculate. He looked at Marguerite sitting on her bed.
"Did you lose something?" Roxton inquired picking up her nightgown admiringly and giving a wicked grin.
"No, I decided to redecorate," Marguerite responded as she snatched her nightgown out of his hand.
"Do you mind?"
"I was only trying to help," Roxton said, grinning.
Marguerite sighed. She was tired. They had spent most of the day coming back from a trading trip with the Zangas.
"Marguerite, is something missing?" Roxton asked noticing the contents of her jewelry box scattered on top of her dresser.
"My locket. It was here when we left. Now I can't find it, anywhere," she told him while putting the jewelry back.
"Did you ask Veronica and Finn about it?"
"No, I just noticed it was missing. They are asleep. I'm sure I'll find it in the morning. Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to get some sleep," Marguerite replied distractedly, motioning for Roxton to leave.
Before leaving, Roxton reached for Marguerite's hand, getting her attention, drew her towards him, then took her face in his hands and kissed her gently on the forehead, saying, "I'm sure things will look better in the morning. Sleep well." Then he left.
Marguerite touched her forehead where Roxton had kissed her with a bemused expression on her face for a moment, thinking sadly, Oh, Roxton, I so don't deserve your caring. Then she quickly changed and crawled into bed. She was asleep before she knew it. She stared dreaming almost immediately….
"Roxton, where are you going?" she asked his retreating back. Marguerite tried to keep up. "John, this isn't funny. You promised to help me look for my locket," she called to him.
He kept moving, not answering or acknowledging her. Then he held up his left hand, high enough for her to see that he was holding her locket. She reached for it and as she did Roxton turned around. Marguerite stared in disbelief. It wasn't Roxton.
"No!" Marguerite screamed jerking herself awake. She looked around in panic until she realized that she was safe in her room. In no time, Roxton rushed in, followed by Challenger, Veronica, and Finn.
"Geez, that was loud enough to wake the dead," Finn mumbled.
Roxton shot her a silencing look. Marguerite was breathing rather quickly.
"Marguerite, what is it?" Roxton asked, sitting on her bed. She looked at him and then the others. She didn't want them to know.
"Nothing," she commented quietly.
Roxton, sensing that she didn't want them to know, motioned the others out. Marguerite's breathing was beginning to return to normal.
"Marguerite, that scream didn't sound like nothing to me," Roxton said taking her face in his hands.
Marguerite took a deep breath, and the words began tumbling out in a rush. "I thought I was following you. You had my locket. When I reached for it you turned around but…" she trailed off.
"But what?" Roxton prodded, letting her face go.
"It wasn't you. It was Locke," she finished quietly.
Roxton looked at Marguerite. She was starting to shake. Roxton pulled her to him, she didn't resist. She wrapped her arms around him.
"Marguerite, it was just a dream," he soothed
"I know, just not one I ever wanted to have," she answered with a yawn.
Roxton was gently rubbing her back. He noticed that her shaking had stopped, finally, and that her breathing was back to normal.
"Marguerite?" he inquired. No response
"I need to go. I'm leaving early with Finn and Challenger to go hunting," Roxton continued, pushing her gently away, then quickly cradling her head as it lolled back, to his surprise. That's when he realized she had fallen asleep. He gently laid her down, thinking, Ah, Marguerite; you look so vulnerable when all your defenses are down in sleep. After lightly caressing her check, he went back to his room.
She watched Finn and Challenger return from hunting.
"Where's John?" she asked Finn as she got off the elevator, followed by Challenger.
"I dunno. Ask Challenger," Finn replied.
Marguerite looked at Challenger, "George, where is he?"
"Marguerite, perhaps you'd better sit down," Challenger suggested trying to guide her to a chair.
"Damnit George, just tell me where he is," Marguerite pulled away.
"Marguerite, some old friends appeared while we were hunting," George Challenger began
"Said their names were Condilac and Blum," Finn interrupted.
Marguerite looked at Finn, and then back at Challenger, "Locke's lackeys took him? NO."
Marguerite sat straight up in bed. She thought she could hear Locke's evil laugh. She tried to go back to sleep but found she couldn't. Each time she closed her eyes she had the dream again. Marguerite finally gave up and, pulling a blanket off her bed, she went to her favorite spot. She stood on the balcony for a while, then walked over to the couch and tried to sleep. She wanted to make sure she was up in time to talk to Roxton. She was hoping she could convince him to not go hunting. Marguerite finally fell asleep without dreaming.
Chapter 2: Laughter
Roxton woke up when the first rays of light broke through. He showered and dressed quickly. He decided to check on Marguerite. She had seemed rather frightened by her dream. Her empty bed greeted him.
Where has she gotten to now? he thought, anxiously.
He left her room and started searching for her. He checked her favorite spot first. She wasn't on the balcony. He looked down to see if she had left the Treehouse. Roxton heard a noise and turned around to notice Marguerite sleeping on the couch.
"What is she doing out here?" he wondered. He walked over and gently started to shake her trying to wake her up.
"Would you stop that?" Marguerite said sitting up.
"Why were you sleeping out here?"
"Stay here and let George and Finn do the hunting," Marguerite told John
"What is the matter with you?" He asked getting up.
"I can't let them do all the hunting. How would they carry it back?" Roxton continued looking at her strangely.
"John, please listen to me. You can't go," Marguerite pleaded standing up.
"Marguerite, what are you talking about?"
She wasn't sure he would believe that Locke was going to kidnap him. As Roxton watched her, he realized that she was starting to shake again. He bent down, picked the blanket up and then wrapped it around her shoulders thinking that she was chilled in the early morning air.
Marguerite wasn't cold - she was scared. Becoming angry, now, she pulled the blanket off and threw it down.
"I had another dream or more like a nightmare. Finn and Challenger came back. You didn't," Marguerite told him.
Roxton looked at Marguerite not sure what to make of what she just told him.
"Ok, I'll play along. Why didn't I come back?"
"This isn't a game Roxton," Marguerite replied in frustration
"Ok, Ok, don't get mad," he told her.
Marguerite sighed as she walked over to him. She reached up and pulled his head closer to hers,
"Condilac and Blumm are the reason you don't come back," she whispered in his ear before heading back to her room.
Roxton picked up her blanket as he made his way to her room. Finn, Challenger, and Veronica were up.
"Ready to go Roxton?" Finn asked
"In a minute," he responded curtly as he passed by.
Marguerite was standing with her back to the entrance of her room. She had her eyes closed.
"He is the most annoyingly pig-headed man," she said quietly to the empty room, sighing.
"And you are a royal pain in the ass," John snapped as he dropped the blanket on her shoulders.
"What did you mean Condilac and Blumm are the reason I don't make it back?" Roxton asked turning her to face him.
Marguerite looked at him, but quickly looked away. She didn't want him to know how afraid she was. Off and on all morning she thought she could hear Locke laughing. Marguerite shook her head trying to shut out the hideous sound.
"John, Locke is back," she whispered
"Marguerite you don't know that. They were just bad dreams," Roxton tried to reassure her.
"No they weren't. If you go, you will not be coming back."
"You're not jealous of Finn are you?"
Marguerite looked at John and tried not to laugh.
"You think I'm saying this because I'm jealous of her? Oh please. Fine! Go hunting - don't listen to me. But, don't blame me when Condilac and Blumm knock you out," Marguerite told him, practically shoving him out of her room.
Roxton stood staring at the doorway to her room thinking, Will this woman ever KNOW me?
"Marguerite I was only teasing."
Roxton stalked, off.
"Finn, George let's go!" he called grabbing his hat, pack and rifle.
Marguerite dressed as quickly as she could. She wanted to catch Roxton before he left.
"Roxton!" she called to him.
"They're already gone," Veronica said from the table.
"Bloody hell," Marguerite mumbled sitting at the table.
"What were you two arguing about?" Veronica asked, passing her a cup of coffee.
Marguerite sighed, "The nightmares I had. Roxton thinks I'm jealous of Finn or he thinks I'm insane. I can't decide which."
"Are you jealous of Finn?" Veronica smiled.
"Oh, please, not you too," Marguerite said rolling her eyes. Veronica laughed.
"This is not funny Veronica. Roxton will not be coming back when they return," Marguerite said leaving the table. She started searching for something.
"Where is that damn statue? Marguerite wondered aloud.
Veronica was watching her. When Marguerite headed down to Challenger's lab, she followed. She found Marguerite looking through Challenger's belongings.
"Marguerite, Challenger isn't going to like this," Veronica commented.
"Found it," Marguerite said holding up the ugly little statue of Olmec, then she left the lab.
"What are you doing?" Veronica asked, following her. Veronica just stared as Marguerite ignored her.
Marguerite had placed her pack on the table and was shoving the statue and some extra bullets into it. She then started pulling out all the gems and jewelry she had stashed everywhere. All of them went into her pack. What she couldn't fit into her pack went into a couple of leather pouches she had. She attached them to her pack. She then headed to the elevator. She grabbed her gun belt and hat, hurriedly putting them on.
"Marguerite what are you doing?" Veronica asked blocking her way to the elevator.
"Veronica Locke/Olmec, whatever he calls himself, is back," Marguerite, said out-maneuvering Veronica and entering the elevator. Veronica joined her looking rather stunned.
"Are you sure? How?"
"Yes. I can hear him laughing. I'm pretty sure he's going to use Roxton to get me to come to him," Marguerite said leaving the elevator once it reached the ground. Veronica followed Marguerite out of the elevator. Marguerite was moving quickly around the fenced in area surrounding the Treehouse. Veronica was tired of trying to keep up and sat down.
Chapter 3: Missing
Roxton was moving rather quickly. Finn and Challenger had a hard time keeping up.
"Hey Roxton, what's the hurry?" Finn called to him.
"I want to get the hunting done," Roxton called back, stopping long enough to allow them to catch up.
"I hear that most hunters stop occasionally to actually shoot at something," Finn commented.
Roxton looked at Finn, "Fine, you two stay here and I'll go ahead."
"Roxton I don't think that's a wise choice," George offered.
"Have you been talking to Marguerite?" Roxton asked Challenger, suspiciously.
"No. I just think it's wiser to stick together", Challenger responded, looking at Roxton curiously.
"Well, as I said, you and Finn can stay here and I'll go ahead," Roxton informed Challenger, stubbornly, as he headed off.
"Is he always like this?" Finn asked George as they hurried to follow Roxton.
"Surely you know what it is to be a bit headstrong, at times, Finn", Challenger replied mildly, glancing at Finn and smiling.
As they rushed to catch up to him with Roxton, they heard gunshots. When Challenger and Finn reached the area they thought Roxton had made it to, where they expected Roxton would be, they saw Roxton's hat and weapons. Finn picked up Roxton's weapons. Challenger picked up his hat and started looking around.
"Roxton?" they both yelled.
Suddenly, Condilac and Blum appeared dragging an unconscious Roxton between them.
"If you want to see him again, deliver this message to your lady friend," Condilac suggested, sarcastically, as he threw a leather tube at Challenger. Then Condilac, Blum, and Roxton disappeared in a blinding flash of light.
Challenger picked up the tube. He knew Marguerite would be displeased, to say the least, when he gave it to her. Oh, Roxton, we'll never hear the end of this from Marguerite, he thought, dreading he and Finn's reception back at the Treehouse.
"We'd better get back," Challenger said, in resignation, heading towards home.
"Oh man, Marguerite's gonna have us for dinner, isn't she, Challenger", Finn commented.
Marguerite was searching outside for some of the gems she had hidden around the Treehouse. Veronica finally found her digging something up near the table outside.
"You've hidden stuff out here as well?" Veronica asked, only mildly surprised.
"No, I just found it here," Marguerite replied sarcastically. She put the small pouch into one of the bigger ones tied to her pack. She started towards another spot where she thought she had buried another pouch.
Veronica stopped her by placing her hand on Marguerite's arm.
"Marguerite, he'll be back," Veronica said, trying to assure her.
Marguerite looked at Veronica. She wanted to believe that it was true, but knew it wasn't. She tried to smile; knowing that she knew Veronica was only trying to help. But, Marguerite was afraid.
The last time Locke was around, Marguerite had come closer to death than she ever wanted to be. No one, with the exception of Roxton, knew how scared she had been and was now. She took a deep breath and let it out.
"Veronica I want to believe that he will come back with them, but I know Locke. And, my dreams don't lie-not when they're this vivid. Roxton is with him," she moved on to the spot she had hidden the last pouch containing gems. She had to keep busy or the worry and fear would take over. Allowing that to happen wouldn't help Roxton one bloody bit.
Veronica thought she saw a bit of fear in Marguerite's eyes before she turned back to her digging. She began to be fearful for Roxton's safety herself, since Marguerite rarely showed much anxiety, much less fear. Maybe there is something to this dream of hers, she thought, beginning to become worried.
Just as Marguerite started digging, Finn and Challenger came through the gate. Marguerite heard the gate close, but didn't dare look up. She kept digging even after she had retrieved the last pouch.
Challenger slowly approached her, dreading her reaction. He put a hand on her shoulder.
"Marguerite, I was told to deliver this to you," Challenger said holding the leather tube out to her.
"Marguerite?" Challenger said again, when she didn't respond.
"I heard you, George," Marguerite said, brushing the dirt off her pants as she stood up. She looked at Challenger and then at the tube, knowing with dread what it must contain. Marguerite slowly reached for the tube, willing her hand to not shake. She walked away from the others once she had the tube. She didn't want the others to see her reaction as she opened the tube. Finn started after her.
"Finn, leave her be", Challenger cautioned, stopping Finn in her tracks.
"She'll tell us what it says soon enough," Veronica added, watching Marguerite.
Marguerite had her back to the others when she finally worked up the nerve to open the tube and pull out the letter.
My dearest Marguerite,
If you want to see Lord John Roxton again, come to the temple, alone.
One of the horses will come for you.
Marguerite stared at the letter for a while; then she took a deep breath before turning around. She held her head high and didn't show any fear as she walked towards the others to show them the letter. She looked at Finn, then at Challenger. She finally looked at Veronica, handing the letter to her and biting back, Didn't I tell you my dreams don't lie?
Marguerite picked up her pack, put it on and headed towards the gate. Veronica, Finn, and Challenger hurriedly read the note. Well and truly frightened now, Veronica ran after Marguerite.
"You are not seriously thinking of going alone are you?" Veronica asked trying to stop Marguerite.
"Veronica, get out of my way," Marguerite warned her.
"Marguerite, you know what he wants."
"Yes I do and if it means Roxton will live..." Marguerite started.
"Roxton won't let you do this," Veronica interrupted
Marguerite turned her face away not wanting Veronica to see the tears that were threatening to spill out.
"I can't, let Locke hurt Roxton. I can't and will not allow him to," Marguerite said, quietly determined. She loved Roxton more than life itself, even if she couldn't tell him so, and she would do anything to save him. If it meant giving Locke the thing he wanted most, she would do it, give anything, for Roxton.
"Marguerite have you forgotten…" Veronica started.
Marguerite turned to face Veronica, a mixture of anger and fear on her face.
"No, I have not forgotten. That's why I have to do this. If I don't, Roxton will die. Now, please, let me go. If John isn't back in a couple of days, do whatever you want," Marguerite said, gently pushing Veronica aside. She went through the gate.
"Aren't you going to stop her?" Finn asked, reaching Veronica. Challenger started to go after Marguerite, thinking to try and stop her.
"Challenger, wait, we'll do as Marguerite has asked. If they aren't back in a couple of days then we'll go after them," Veronica told them, as she watched Marguerite standing, restlessly, waiting for the horse to arrive.
"Is that wise?" Challenger asked
"Challenger, I don't like it any more than you do, but this is something that Marguerite feels, strongly, that she has to do, alone," Veronica told him.
"Who is this Locke?" Finn asked.
Just then the horse Locke had promised stopped in front of Marguerite. She looked at the horse, grabbed the reins, got on and rode off. Veronica, Challenger, and Finn watched as Marguerite and the horse disappeared.
"Whoa. Where'd they go?" Finn asked, incredulous.
"Come on Finn, I'll tell you," Veronica said, heading for the elevator. Finn and Challenger followed.
Chapter 4: Locke and Roxton
Roxton woke up in a tent. It was filled with furniture and everything else Locke and his companions had stolen. He got up and looked around. He noticed one table full of jewelry. When he got closer he recognized one necklace in particular. He picked it up, thinking he recognized it; it was Marguerite's locket. Just as he was about to open it, he heard someone approaching. Roxton quickly slipped it into his pants pocket, thinking, Well, Marguerite, even though I know I'm sure to hear 'I told you so', at least I've found your locket.
"So, you're finally awake," Locke said as he entered the tent.
Roxton looked at Locke, in disgust, and then asked, "What part of never did you not understand?"
Locke laughed, "Well Lord Roxton, knowing Marguerite as well as I do, I feel quite certain that she'll be here soon to beg me for your life."
"You don't know her as well as you think. Marguerite is not in the least acquainted with the concept of begging," Roxton replied, laughing.
"She will, just wait and see, Lord Roxton" Locke said, smiling, sure of himself tring to convince Roxton that he knew exactly how Marguerite would react so much better than Roxton, himself.
"Why use me?" Roxton said, wondering out loud.
"Because I know she wouldn't want anything to happen to you, I have a feeling that she will give me exactly what I want," Locke informed Roxton.
"You know, Lord Roxton, you could make this easier for her if you were to agree to join us," Locke continued.
"You have nothing I want", Roxton said, flatly.
"With us, you could travel to anywhere, to any time. You could even go back and prevent your brother's death," Locke taunted, carefully watching Roxton's face.
Roxton looked at Locke hard, saying, "If I do this, will you leave Marguerite alone?"
"Maybe, maybe not. I haven't decided if I want you. Having four people around would get old quickly," Locke said, perversely.
"You do realize that if Marguerite joins you, she will only be doing so to save me. You will never have her completely," Roxton told Locke.
Locke didn't like that response; it smacked too much of the truth. He didn't like to lose. He rushed Roxton and knocked him into a table. The table crashed under their weight. Locke got up and offered his hand to help Roxton up. Roxton took the opportunity to slug Locke. Locke staggered back as Roxton stood up.
"Condilac, Blumm get in here and tie him up!" Locke ordered.
Roxton tried to fight them off, but after the scuffle with Locke, he wasn't up to fighting off the two of them. He must have been injured in the scuffle with Locke. They quickly out-maneuvered him and tied his hands behind his back. Locke grabbed a pistol and pointed it at Roxton. He motioned for Roxton to leave the tent.
"When she gets here, tell her to come to the temple immediately," Locke told his lackeys, as he pushed Roxton along towards the temple.
"You'll never have her heart and soul," Roxton said, quietly as they neared the temple.
Locke shoved Roxton up the stairs.
"All this for a woman who will never love you," Roxton continued, laughing.
"Shut up," Locke ordered.
"Getting worried that I'm right?" Roxton asked.
"No. Marguerite will be mine," Locke threatened, pushing Roxton towards one of the small pools.
"Get in," Locke ordered, aiming the pistol at Roxton.
Roxton didn't move. Locke pulled the hammer back.
"I said get in."
"Killing me will only make her hate you more than she already does," Roxton informed him, stalling for time.
"Move! Now!" Locke yelled, as he pushed Roxton again. Roxton stumbled but didn't fall. He reluctantly stepped into the pool. With Locke watching him, he couldn't free his hands. Locke stepped into the pool behind Roxton.
The horse carrying Marguerite finally stopped at Locke's camp. Condilac and Blumm were there to greet her. She pointed her pistol at them.
"Where are they?" she demanded.
"Olmec wants you to go to the temple," Blumm said, grabbing the reigns.
Condilac reached for her pack, grinning greedily and asking, "What's in the pack?"
"Nothing for you. Now back off!" Marguerite threatened as she dismounted.
Condilac grabbed for the pack. Marguerite shot him in the leg.
"I said back off."
As Condilac fell to the ground, screaming and clutching the bleeding wound in his leg, Blumm tried to disarm her, but Marguerite was too quick and used the butt of her gun to knock him unconscious and he crumpled to the ground.
"What part of back off did you two not get?" she asked, acidly while tying them up.
"I can't have you following me to help that bastard who owns you," she explained. Marguerite then untied all their horses and fired a couple of shots in the air to scare the horses off. Anxiously, she headed towards the temple. When Marguerite was halfway there, she stopped and pulled the statue out of her pack. As she approached the stairs she could hear them arguing.
Marguerite began to quickly mount the stairs so that she could actually hear what they were saying. She heard Roxton telling Olmec that she would never be his. Then the arguing stopped.
Really frightened, now, Marguerite began to run up the stairs. By the time she reached the top, Olmec had Roxton's head underwater. Roxton was struggling.
Marguerite's heart began beating frantically as the memories of Olmec's attempt on her own life came flooding back and she was terrified that she was about to lose Roxton. She shook her head to clear her mind, which was screaming; No, you can't have him. No, Roxton, please don't leave me! Saving Roxton was top priority.
"Let him go!" she screamed, furiously as she hurled the statue at Olmec's head.
Chapter 5: Resistance
Olmec didn't notice Marguerite, at first, as he was to busy trying to kill Roxton. But, Roxton was strong even with his hands tied behind his back, and Olmec was getting tired. Lord Roxton, you have quite the will to live, he thought, smiling sardonically. But, I suppose I understand your incentive, he thought, nearly distracted by the vision of Marguerite in his mind's eye then redoubling his efforts to strangle Lord Roxton.
Then he heard Marguerite's footsteps. He looked up just in time to see the statue flying towards his head. He had just enough time to duck. The statue crashed into the wall behind him.
"I believe you missed," Olmec commented, smiling and thinking, God she is so beautiful.
"It won't happen again," Marguerite promised, taking her pack off without taking her eyes off Olmec, but wanting desperately to look at Roxton, instead.
"I said let him go," Marguerite said aiming at Olmec.
"Now where would be the fun in that?" Olmec asked. Roxton wasn't struggling nearly as much, which didn't escape Marguerite's hyper-alert senses.
Marguerite pulled the hammer back as she said, "Let Roxton go," her voice deadly quiet. Then, her control snapped and she screamed "Now, Olmec!" and, when he just laughed at her, she pulled the trigger.
The bullet ripped through the air hitting Olmec in the left shoulder. The force of the bullet, and the surprise that she actually had shot him, knocked Olmec off balance enough so that he fell back onto the ground, losing his grip on Roxton's throat.
Marguerite dropped her gun and rushed to the pool, dropping to her knees and trying to pull John out of the water. He collapsed against her, unconscious and dead weight.
"John? John, can you hear me?" Marguerite inquired, anxiously, taking his face between her hands, willing him to open his eyes. Please, John, open your eyes, help me, she pleaded, silently. He was barely breathing and his eyes remained closed.
Tenderly laying his head on her shoulder, as she struggled to free his hands, Marguerite thought only of holding him close once he was out of the water.
She'd almost forgotten Olmec until he said, acidly, "You shot me, bitch," sitting up and tearing the sleeve of his shirt to use in trying to stop the bleeding.
"Next time, if there is one, when I tell you to let someone go, you'd bloody do well to listen," Marguerite warned Olmec. Having freed John's hands, she was gently slapping Roxton's face trying desperately to wake him.
"Come on John, now is not the time to sleep. Wake up."
Knowing she had little time left, and with Olmec's legs still dangling in the water at Roxton's back, Marguerite sat back on the ground and wrapped her own legs round Roxton's waist, letting him slump against her. She leaned back onto her hands and began backing away from the edge of the pool pulling him out with agonizing slowness.
"Condilac! Blum?" Olmec bellowed, looking amused and angry at the same time.
"They're a bit tied up at the moment," Marguerite informed him, as Roxton began to stir, head on her shoulder.
Raising his head, he slowly opened his eyes, shaking his head groggily, then saying, in obvious surprise," Marguerite, what…." Breaking off, he began to rise up off her with obvious reluctance.
Marguerite smiled, helping him to roll off her and sit up. Reaching for her gun, she handed it to Roxton, who was looking furiously at Olmec and rubbing his throat remembering his struggles before he lost consciousness. Then she retrieved her pack from where she'd dropped it earlier in her haste to draw her gun.
She tossed it to Olmec, saying contemptuously, "That's everything I own. It's yours, now. Take it and leave us alone," she ordered.
"Ah, but my dear Marguerite you know I want much more than your treasure," Olmec said, pulling his legs from the pool, standing and kicking the pack aside. He started walking towards them.
Marguerite leaned over taking her gun back from Roxton who was struggling to stand, still weak from his ordeal. She wanted to help John but feared to take her eyes from Olmec, so she aimed her gun at him.
"I mean it Olmec. Leave us alone. I told you last time, my heart and soul will never belong to you," Marguerite informed him.
"Think of all you could have. We're the same, Marguerite, two peas in a pod," Olmec repeated moving closer.
"Stay right there," Marguerite threatened.
Olmec kept moving closer. Marguerite pulled the hammer back once again.
"That's close enough," she warned him.
Olmec didn't heed the warning and moved closer still. Marguerite pulled the trigger and shot Olmec again, this time in the chest.
"I told you last time that I am nothing like you," she said, seething with barely suppressed rage. Olmec kept coming closer.
Roxton had managed to stand. Marguerite hadn't noticed, intent on keeping her rage in check so as not to spoil her aim, but Olmec did. He fired a single round, which only grazed Roxton's right arm, but he fell again, only barely having found his balance.
Afraid to look in Roxton's direction, "No!" Marguerite screamed, then fired her gun again, hitting Olmec in the stomach. The force caused him to fall back a bit and knocked him off balance. He had been aiming for her chest but, by the time he pulled the trigger, he hit her in the left leg. Marguerite felt the bullet rip through her skin, but didn't make a sound.
"Marguerite!" Roxton yelled, struggling to get up, again.
Marguerite looked at the hole the bullet had made in her pants and noticed the blood starting to pour out. She ignored the pain and looked at Olmec.
"You don't look so good, Olmec. Having problems?" Marguerite asked raising her pistol once more. She aimed at his heart, wondering if he had one.
"You can't kill me. I'm immortal, remember," Olmec smirked.
"Ah, but I also remember that it was in this very spot that you told me the only way that you could die would be if you were to die violently", Marguerite reminded him as she pulled the trigger. The bullet slammed into his chest once again and, before he could react, Marguerite fired again. She kept shooting until she emptied her gun and he finally dropped to his knees, then to the ground, clutching his chest.
"You could have had everything you ever dreamed of," Olmec said as Marguerite walked past him to retrieve her pack. She picked it up, pulled out the extra bullets and then dropped it, hard, on Olmec's chest. "I already have it," she said, looking at Roxton.
Once she saw, with relief, that John was only grazed by Olmec's bullet, she looked back at him, saying coldly, "Get this straight, leave me and my friends alone, if you manage to live," she told him just before she knocked him out using the butt of her pistol.
"I can't have you following us."
Marguerite slowly walked over to Roxton, who was staring at her in admiration.
"John, are you ok?" she asked helping him to stand.
"Yes, the bullet just grazed my shoulder. Marguerite, you saved my life, I…" he broke off, reaching out to gently caress her check, then remembering, "Your leg," Roxton began, starting to reach toward her wound.
"My leg is fine, let's go home," Marguerite said, pulling away, afraid to let go of her still seething rage at Olmec just yet, and heading for the stairs. Roxton watched her trying not to limp. She waited at the top of the stairs for him to catch up.
"Marguerite you shouldn't be walking on that leg. You'll only make it bleed more," he cautioned coming up next to her.
"Well, you are in no condition to carry me, not that I'd let you, anyway," Marguerite said, as she started down the stairs.
Roxton slipped his arm around her waist to support her as she went down the stairs, guessing that if her leg didn't hurt so much she would have refused his help. They were about half way down when Condilac and Blum finally showed up.
"Back off!" Marguerite warned them.
"Where's Olmec?" Condilac demanded.
"Up there bleeding to death, hopefully," Roxton told him, motioning at the top of the stairs.
"He's got lots of gems and jewels as well," Marguerite shared when she and Roxton made it down the stairs. Smiling greedily, Condilac and Blum raced up the stairs. When they got to Olmec he was dead.
"You killed him!" Blum yelled. Condilac picked up Olmec's gun and aimed it at Marguerite. Roxton pushed her out of the way and the bullet struck him in the left shoulder. Marguerite struggled to catch him but couldn't and Roxton hit the ground, groaning as his shoulder was jarred by the impact.
Marguerite dropped to her knees to shield him as she reloaded her gun and fired, hitting Condilac twice, knocking him down. Blum looked as if he were going to take the gun from Condilac. Marguerite shot again, this time hitting the pistol, causing it to fly out of Condilac's hand.
"Do you want to die next, Blum?" she asked him.
"No, no, no," Blum responded, backing away, hands up in submission.
"Good. Let us go and I won't shoot you. If Olmec some how manages to live, remind him to leave my friends and me alone," Marguerite threatened. Then, she shot him in the leg, thinking, As soon as I turn my back he'll have the gun from Condilac, the weasel.
"You said you wouldn't shoot me," Blum whined, grabbing his leg.
"I lied. I can't have you following us, now can I?" Marguerite remarked sarcastically.
Chapter 6: Dread
Somehow she managed to get Roxton to his feet after she had bandaged his shoulder using the sleeve of his shirt that she'd ripped up. As she put an arm around him, Roxton winced.
"What is it?" Marguerite asked, worried that she had hurt him.
"I think I broke a couple of ribs when Olmec and I fought," Roxton said, glancing at her leg, saying ruefully, "And, aren't we both a bit worse for wear", trying to make a bit light of their ordeal.
Marguerite gave him a small smile and loosened her grip a bit and as they started walking towards the Treehouse. They walked in silence for a while, until Roxton's curiosity got the better of him.
"Marguerite what were you thinking, coming alone?" Roxton asked, stopping.
Marguerite noticed a rather large rock and directed Roxton to it. They sat and rested before she answered him.
"Your leg is bleeding," Roxton observed.
She looked at Roxton, "Olmec/Locke sent a note telling me to come alone," she began to explain. "I didn't want to risk losing you by bringing anyone else. Believe me they wanted to come. I told them if you weren't back in a couple of days they could do whatever they wanted," Marguerite told him as he ripped the sleeves off her shirt to use as bandages to stop her leg from bleeding.
"Does it hurt?" he asked as he tied the sleeves around her leg. She closed her eyes to keep him from seeing just how much it did hurt.
"No," Marguerite lied. It hurt like hell, but she knew if John knew how much, he'd try something stupid like trying to carry her.
"Liar," Roxton told her as he tried to move back to the rock. The pain from his shoulder and ribs quickly put a stop to that idea.
"John, I said I'll live," Marguerite told him.
"That won't stop the bleeding for long, I'm afraid," John said, looking at the makeshift bandage around her leg.
Marguerite looked at John, "It will have to do. I didn't bring anything else with me," she replied sarcastically.
Roxton looked at her. He wanted to say something equally sarcastic, but he realized she was probably in as much pain as he was. Thinking that she was probably still very angry and frightened, as well, he held back his retort.
"We should get moving," Marguerite said reaching for his good hand.
"I'm not sure that I can," he said.
"Roxton, yes you can. Now get up," Marguerite ordered.
"No, it's getting harder to breathe. My ribs really hurt."
"John, I am not leaving you here. Now come on," Marguerite urged, hoping he couldn't hear the fear in her voice, as she bent down to help him stand up.
"You're going to have to. I'll only slow us down. You'll move faster if you go alone," Roxton explained, standing up.
Marguerite turned her head. She closed her eyes to stave off the tears that were threatening to come. She took a deep breath before facing John again. She quietly removed her gun belt, handed it and the extra bullets to him.
"You should take it with you," Roxton said trying to give it back.
"No you keep it. I'll be moving," Marguerite, told him pushing it back to him.
"Marguerite," Roxton started to protest, but Marguerite silenced him with a kiss. He looked rather surprised, she noticed, when she pulled back and looked into his eyes. She kept one hand on his face, caressing his cheek as she smiled into his eyes.
"John, I'll be back as soon as I can with the others. I love you," and then she was gone.
John looked at her retreating back astounded at what he thought he'd heard her say. Did she really say she loves me? I'm not sure that I heard correctly, he thought, feeling a bit confused as his shortness of breath increased. Ah, Marguerite, I do hope you said what I've longed to hear.
Marguerite was walking as quickly as she could with her injured leg. She heard a sound and stopped long enough to realize it was raptors making it. She ran. They were right behind her. Her breath ached in her chest; sweat ran in rivers down her face; muscles burned beneath her skin; her leg bled in a slow, warm gush with each step. But she couldn't stop.
He was waiting and counting on her. What if his lung is punctured, she thought? Under those conditions he wouldn't last long. She couldn't let him down. Ignore the pain. Don't think. Just run. Survive. Her fear for Roxton pushed her on as she kept running. She didn't look back, but she could hear the raptors behind her getting closer.
When she realized she was close to the Treehouse she yelled for help.
Finn was outside practicing her reading, using her crossbow to shoot the cards Challenger had made for her. Veronica was on the other side of the Treehouse working. Finn heard Marguerite's yell, but couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from. She also heard the raptors, so she ran over and opened the gate.
"Raptors are after Marguerite!" Finn yelled up to the Treehouse. Challenger appeared on the balcony and shot two of them. One was almost on Marguerite as she made it to the gate. Just before she went through, the raptor tried to catch her. Marguerite let out a small scream as the raptor's claw connected with her back, ripping through her shirt and into her skin. Finn shot it with her crossbow as Marguerite stumbled through the gate. Veronica caught her before she fell.
"Marguerite, where's Roxton? Is he…?" Veronica asked, trailing off.
"He's hurt worse than I am. We decided it would be better if I came alone to get help," Marguerite told them, accepting a canteen from Challenger when he appeared.
"Let me look at that leg," Challenger offered as he saw the blood covering the makeshift bandage Roxton had tied around her leg and reached for Marguerite's leg.
"No, we have to go get Roxton, now!" Marguerite demanded turning back to the gate as she handed the half empty canteen back to Challenger.
"Marguerite, your back," Finn said noticing three trails of blood flowing down her back.
"I'm fine. Let's go get John, now," she said opening the gate and motioning them through, urgently.
"Marguerite, wait. How bad is he?" Challenger said grabbing an arm.
"He's got a couple of broken ribs and was shot twice. One wound is pretty bad; the other is a flesh wound. When I left he was having a hard time breathing. I left my gun with him," Marguerite said trying to pull away.
"Marguerite, we need…" Veronica started.
"We need to go now. He's out there alone," Marguerite almost yelled.
"We'll need some first aid at least. We should tend to your wounds first," Veronica finished as Challenger and Finn went to the Treehouse to gather supplies and the stretcher.
"Not until we've brought John home," Marguerite insisted.
"Ok, calm down," Veronica said.
Marguerite looked at Veronica thinking, Please let them hurry up. She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them again when Veronica spoke.
"We should at least try to stop the bleeding," Veronica tried again.
"We don't have time," Marguerite said as Challenger and Finn returned.
"Ready?" she asked them. She didn't wait for a reply; instead, she started running again.
"Is she trying to kill herself?" Finn wondered aloud as they ran to catch her.
"No, I think she's scared and possibly in shock due to her injuries," Challenger responded.
"Challenger, I am not in shock. Roxton is hurt and alone. Condilac and Blum are still alive. If they don't find him, raptors surely will. I can only hope that Olmec is actually dead," Marguerite called back.
She's pushing herself too hard, Veronica thought, worried about her friend.
Sooner than any of them expected they were at the spot where Marguerite had left Roxton. He wasn't there. Marguerite noticed some spent shells on the ground near the rock. She searched the area frantically.
"John! Where are you?"
Veronica noticed some footprints.
"Marguerite, I think he went this way," she said following the footprints.
Marguerite was right behind her with Challenger and Finn following her. The footprints eventually lead them to a cave.
"John? John are you in there?" Marguerite called out as she went into the cave. She nearly tripped over his legs. Roxton was sitting on the ground against the wall of the cave. She knelt beside him, fear nearly closing her throat.
"John?" she whispered, voice trembling.
His eyes were closed and he was breathing slowly. Marguerite gently stroked his cheek.
"John, come on. Rise and shine. Time to go home," she coaxed.
While Marguerite was trying to wake John, Finn and Challenger were setting up the stretcher to carry Roxton home on. Veronica was in the cave with Marguerite.
Roxton felt something soft and warm, gently caressing his cheek. He could hear a familiar voice, but couldn't quite make out what she was saying. He moved his head a bit.
"That's it, wake up. Come on," Marguerite encouraged him.
He finally opened his eyes and smiled. Marguerite's eyes shined with fresh tears.
"Think you can stand?" she asked, as he reached for her. She grabbed his hands to keep him from touching her back, and tried to help him up.
Veronica could tell she was struggling and rushed over to help. Together they were able to help Roxton out of the cave. Marguerite was careful to not let him see her back. She knew he'd worry. The claw marks were starting to sting and hurt. She let Veronica lead Roxton the rest of the way. She stood still for a minute or two. She took a few deep breaths.
"Marguerite?" Roxton called weakly.
"Right here," Marguerite answered moving next to the stretcher. Roxton took her hand. She smiled at him and then kissed him on the forehead.
"Ready to move?" Challenger asked when she finished, motioning Finn to pick up the other end of the stretcher. John didn't release her hand. Fighting back tears, Marguerite gently squeezed his hand, as the others drew up the stretcher, carefully, trying not to jostle him.
"Yes," Roxton and Marguerite answered in unison.
Chapter 7: Shadows
As Finn and Challenger carried Roxton, Marguerite tried to keep up, but all of the running she had done and the blood loss were starting to catch up with her. Veronica was behind her. Roxton was unconscious, so Marguerite had released his hand and was starting to slow down. Challenger noticed, but didn't worry when he saw Veronica behind her. Marguerite stumbled, but before she could fall Veronica was there, putting an arm around her waist.
"Let me help. You've done more than enough for today," Veronica offered, quietly.
Marguerite was too tired and in too much pain to resist. She smiled weakly at Veronica.
"Anytime. We'll be home soon," Veronica said. She had a new–found respect for Marguerite. Veronica hadn't thought that Marguerite had it in her to accomplish all she had today. Shows you what you think you know isn't always exactly right, she thought to herself. Marguerite was shaking her head trying to stay wake.
"Come on, you can sleep later," Veronica said trying to help.
"I know, but I can't help it," Marguerite said yawning.
"Look, Challenger and Finn are taking Roxton up. Come on," Veronica said, trying to divert Marguerite's attention. Marguerite looked up to see Challenger holding Roxton up as Finn called the elevator down. Soon, the three disappeared.
Veronica and Marguerite finally made it to the elevator. Once they reached the top, Veronica tried to steer Marguerite to her room. Marguerite had other plans. She headed straight for Roxton's room.
Challenger was already working on getting Roxton mended. He was checking Roxton's ribs. "Luckily you only broke a couple and nothing more," Challenger said as he started wrapping Roxton's ribs.
Then, he checked the flesh wound on Roxton's right arm. He had that bandaged quickly. Next, he moved on to the bullet wound in Roxton's left shoulder, saying with relief, "At least the bullet went clean through."
"You need to stop the bleeding Challenger, you'll have to cauterize it," Roxton told him, a bit breathlessly.
Marguerite had been standing in the doorway the whole time. She backed up when she heard that. She could remember all too vividly when she had been forced to do that for Roxton. She closed her eyes and leaned on the wall. As soon as her back touched the wall her eyes opened. She quietly sucked in a breath.
"How's Marguerite?" Roxton asked.
"I'm sure Veronica is taking good care of her," Finn told him as she watched Challenger get ready.
Marguerite heard Challenger instructing Finn to go out to the kitchen and get a fire going and to then put the poker in the fire to get good and hot. Marguerite started moving away from John's room when she heard Finn's footsteps moving closer to the door. She wanted to be as far away as possible when Challenger cauterized Roxton's shoulder.
Veronica had been watching her the whole time. When Marguerite realized that Veronica had seen her reaction, she quickly went in her room. She started gathering things she would need to take a shower. When Veronica came into her room, Marguerite was ready.
"I think I'll go take a shower," she told Veronica and moved past her. She headed down the stairs to the shower.
"Marguerite, do you need any help?" Veronica offered as she followed Marguerite down to the shower.
"No. If I do, I'll call," Marguerite said turning on the water. She quickly stripped and stepped into the shower. Veronica sat down on the steps as she waited for Marguerite to finish. She heard Marguerite moan in pain when the water hit her back. Both women looked up when they heard Roxton moaning.
Marguerite had to sit down. She couldn't take his moaning. She felt that it was all her fault that John was hurt. She started to cry. Soon she was sobbing.
Veronica moved closer to the shower when she heard some strange noises coming from it. After a bit, she realized that Marguerite was crying. She hesitated a moment.
"Marguerite? Are you ok?" she asked
"I'll be fine," Marguerite finally managed to say. She slowly stood back up and finished washing; trying to make sure her wounds were clean. She bit her lower lip to keep from screaming. She couldn't tell which hurt worse, her leg or her back. She turned off the water and started drying off.
Could this day get any better? She thought as she tried to dress. She was able to pull on her underpants but gave up on trying to get a shirt or bra on. It hurt too much. She walked out of the shower holding a towel to cover her chest. She was about to pick up her clothes when she noticed Veronica waiting.
"I'll get those later. Are you going to let us take care of you now?" Veronica said leaning on the railing of the stairs.
"Is Roxton taken care of?" Marguerite asked looking at her friend.
"Yes, he's sleeping. Challenger is going to have to cauterize your leg as well," Veronica said noticing the blood running down Marguerite's leg.
"I know, but I think he'll have to remove the bullet first," Marguerite said heading back to her room.
When she reached her room, Challenger was waiting, having already sent Finn back to the kitchen to prepare the poker for Marguerite's leg. She walked over to her bed and sat down. As soon as she sat down, Veronica was behind her putting some yarrow leaf ointment Challenger had made on her back.
"This is going to sting," Veronica warned.
"Just do it, George. Don't explain it," Marguerite said through clenched teeth as Challenger opened his mouth to expound. The ointment was stinging the claw marks causing them to hurt even more. Marguerite stiffened, but didn't make a sound. She didn't want to wake Roxton.
Challenger was gently poking around her leg wound.
"The bullet is still in there. You'll have to take it out," Marguerite told him wincing as he kept poking around the wound.
"I see that. Well I'll have to go get some…" Challenger started.
"George, just do it. Don't explain, please," Marguerite repeated. Challenger looked up at Marguerite. He could see the pain in her eyes. He got up and went to his lab to get the supplies he'd need to extract the bullet.
While he was gone Veronica took the opportunity to wrap Marguerite's back.
"Marguerite, can you lift your arms?" Veronica asked starting to put the cloth on her back.
Marguerite slowly lifted her arms so Veronica could wrap the cloth around her chest and back. Veronica moved quickly realizing that it had to be painful for Marguerite to keep her arms up.
"Ok, I'm done, you can put your arms down and lay down," Veronica said moving off the bed.
Marguerite pulled her legs onto the bed but didn't' lie down.
"Marguerite?" Veronica asked, when she noticed that Marguerite was sitting up. As she walked around the end of the bed she saw tears streaming down Marguerite's face. She sat down next to her.
"It's ok Marguerite. Roxton is going to be fine," Veronica, said trying to reassure her.
"It's my fault. It's all my fault," Marguerite whispered.
"I'm sure Roxton doesn't blame you."
"He doesn't have to. I blame me."
"Marguerite, how can you blame yourself? You couldn't have known Olmec was going to come back," Veronica replied, reasonably.
"I should have stopped Roxton from leaving. I knew he would be taken," Marguerite tried to explain. "I saw it."
"Marguerite, it is not your fault. You can no more make Roxton do something he doesn't want to do than I can," Veronica said offering Marguerite a towel to wipe her face with.
Marguerite took the towel as she looked at Veronica. She wiped her face. She sighed as she tried to lie down. Her back didn't hurt as much as she thought it would.
"Veronica, thank you," Marguerite said, quietly.
Veronica smiled, looking up as Challenger returned.
"Ready?" He asked, handing Veronica a familiar bottle of whiskey.
"As I'll ever be," Marguerite replied.
"He's going to be mad," Veronica, said when Challenger handed her a glass and requested that she pour some in it.
"He won't mind. It's for a good cause," Challenger said, setting things up so he could take the bullet out of Marguerite's leg.
Veronica handed him the glass of whiskey, which Challenger then handed to Marguerite.
"Drink this," he ordered.
Marguerite took the glass and downed the content without a word. She then closed her eyes as Veronica took the glass.
"Do it," Marguerite told Challenger.
She could feel him digging around trying to find the bullet. Tears spilled out of her closed eyes.
"Got it," Challenger said eventually.
"Finn," Veronica called placing her hands gently on Marguerite's shoulders. Marguerite opened her eyes for a second then closed them again just as quickly.
Finn entered with the poker and handed it to Challenger.
"Finn hold her other leg, please," Challenger requested quietly.
"Marguerite, bite on this," Veronica said, putting a large piece of cloth in Marguerite's mouth.
Marguerite did as she was told. She kept her eyes closed. She could feel Finn, Veronica and Challenger's hands on her. She suddenly felt something burning her leg. She tried not to scream, but it hurt like hell. The last thing she heard was Challenger apologizing, before she slipped mercifully into unconsciousness.
"She'll sleep for a quite some time I suspect," Challenger said as they left her room.
Chapter 8: Journey Home
"How long has she been sleeping? Is she ok?" Roxton asked, anxiously, looking at Marguerite.
"Several days. She lost more blood than we originally thought," Veronica replied.
Marguerite could hear them and tried to open her eyes. It was hard because she was still so tired.
"Is that why she's so pale?" Finn asked.
"I'm not deaf nor dead," Marguerite finally announced as she opened her eyes. She searched for Roxton. He was sitting on the bed next to her.
"Hello," he said quietly, smiling as he gently touched her face.
Marguerite reached up and took his hand.
"Oh, John, I'm so very sorry", she told him as fresh tears pooled in her eyes.
"Finn, let's leave them alone," Veronica whispered as she touched Finn's arm. Finn followed Veronica out of Marguerite's room, rolling her eyes.
Roxton gently pulled Marguerite to him.
"Ow," she cried.
"What happened to it?" Roxton asked noticing the rather large bandage covering most of her upper body.
"I'm sorry, is that better?" Roxton asked moving his arms farther down.
"Yes," Marguerite said weakly. She was trying not to cry again. She was in a lot of pain. She was resting her head on Roxton's good shoulder.
"It's really not your fault, you know," he told her.
Marguerite moved her head back so she could see his face. Then, she kissed him, just a whisper of her lips on his mouth.
"John, I was afraid I would lose you," Marguerite whispered as she put her head on his right shoulder again, kissing his neck, reassuring herself with the taste of him, the scent of him.
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm too stubborn to die just yet," he assured her stroking her hair. "And if you keep that up, you may find your back hurting, again," he teased.
They sat like that for a while. Then Roxton started to move.
"I almost forgot, I have a surprise for you," he told her.
Marguerite looked up. Roxton helped her to lean against the pillows, then, taking her face between his hands, he kissed her gently on the forehead. He stood up, smiled at her, and left her room. He was back in a few minutes. He sat back down.
"Close your eyes and lean forward," he gently ordered, kneeling beside her bed.
"Roxton, you should know by now that I don't like surprises," she told him as she complied.
She could feel him moving her hair out of the way. Then she felt both his hands and forearms around her neck. Suddenly she felt something cold and metallic on her neck and chest. She reached up and felt the heart. Her eyes flew open. She was smiling, radiantly.
"My locket," she exclaimed in delight. Where did you find it?"
"Olmec had it. I noticed it when I was in the tent," Roxton answered, rising and sitting on her bed.
Marguerite surprised Roxton, next, by kissing him passionately.
"Whoa, what was that for?" Roxton asked catching his breath and smiling.
Marguerite smiled at him as she touched her locket again. Now, I see, he thought, It's the only connection she has to her parents.
"I'm glad I was able to find it for you," he told her as he moved to sit closer to her. He gently pulled her to his chest, careful not to hurt her back. Marguerite put her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes.
"Thank you," she murmured as she drifted off to sleep content to be in his arms, their shared ordeal having lessened her fear of intimacy for a time.
Roxton kissed the top of her head and then rested his head on hers. Soon he was drifting off to sleep, as well, and lay down gingerly beside her, cradling her head on his right shoulder. Pulling her closer very gently with his left arm, since his left shoulder was still rather uncomfortable, he entangled his legs with hers mindful of her wound.
When she didn't stir, he carefully touched the locket with his left hand where it nestled just below the small depression at the base of her throat, then placed a gentle kiss just above it. He saw her smile in her sleep and lay his cheek on her head, again, slipping into contented oblivion.