Too Brief an Interlude

By Alekto.

Summary: Marguerite and Roxton decide to take some time together to reflect after the events of "Trapped". As usual in the Lost World, their plans for a quiet picnic do not quite go off as they would have liked.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Lost World. I'm just borrowing Marguerite, Roxton and the others for a little while.
Author's note: This piece is written from Marguerite's point of view. It takes place after the 3rd season episode "Trapped".
Rating: PG
Feedback: alekto_uk@hotmail.com


	What is hell?
	Hell is oneself,
	Hell is alone, the other figures in it
		Merely projections.
	There is nothing to escape from
	And nothing to escape to.
		One is always alone.

From: "The Cocktail Party"
By T.S.Eliot


On days like this I could really believe that I'm not trapped on a remote Amazonian Plateau, teeming with dinosaurs, cannibals, ape-men and worse.

Well… almost believe. This place has a distinctly annoying habit of sneaking up on you.

It is beautiful, though. I've never really been one for the great outdoors, but I have to admit that John's picked a nice spot for our picnic: a pretty, grassy bank above the sweltering jungle. Was it not for the weaponry we have close at hand, I could almost believe we're in Italy or on the French Riviera. Through the light mist shrouding the jungle, I can just about make out the tree house. I know that John's got with him a small piece of mirror for signalling in case of trouble. Neither of us is naďve enough to think that trouble can't find us or the others back home.

That concept stops me in my tracks. When did the tree house become home? It's a term I don't generally use to refer to where I'm staying. Here, now, it somehow seems to have become appropriate. My time on this Plateau, for all that it's a savage and dangerous place, has been some of the happiest of my life.

I spent every penny I possessed, and some I didn't actually possess, if I'm being honest about it, to get us all here. I've been shot at, kidnapped, knocked out, half drowned and possessed by…something, but I can honestly say that I wouldn't exchange these past three years for anything.

I came here searching for my past. Along the way I acquired a family…and I met Lord John Richard Roxton: a man who says that he loves me. He says he would give his last breath to save me. He's come close to having to do it more often than I care to remember.

In a bizarre English village, he got shot, nearly killed, when he surrendered rather than let me die at the hands of a ruthless prosecutor. In my nightmares I can still smell the sickly-harsh reek of his burning flesh as I had to cauterise the wound to stop him from bleeding to death. I piled untold agony onto what he had already suffered. He had been lying there in pain, making jokes to make me feel better about causing him more pain before I pressed the glowing poker against his flesh. When he came to, hours later, it was he who comforted me.

I sometimes wonder how it is a man like that can love me, yet he tells me that he does. What have I done to him, except cause him pain and anguish? So very often I can't help but think he'd be better off without me.

He's looking at me as I'm sitting there silently, lost in my memories. This event was supposed to be a chance to get away from the others and talk in private. I have to admit though that I've hardly said a word to him since leaving the tree house. As I look at him I can't help but feel that there's something indescribably funny about the confusion in his expression. I fight back a laugh.

"What?" He's smiling: that warm, slightly mystified smile that I so often seem to elicit from him.

I duck my head, finally unable to restrain a laugh. His smile broadens: "What??"

"Nothing. Sit down and eat the nice raptor sandwiches Veronica made up for us." Veronica had accomplished more than I had ever thought possible in making dead raptor seem moderately edible. Fortnum and Mason, however, had nothing to worry about.

Suddenly John turns his head, alert at some hint of danger that I've missed. He's already reaching for his gun when I hear the faint but rapidly approaching sound of drumming hooves. I grab my rifle and like him, lever a cartridge into the breech ready to fire. We had been stupidly complacent, leaving ourselves too far from the edge of the jungle to run for cover.

"There!" John's pointing with his left hand, "and there!" More of them, approaching us from two sides, five of them in all. I've no idea who they are: raiders, slavers, or maybe some people we've never met before who have taken a dislike to John's hat. Right now, it doesn't really matter. They seem to be intent on attacking us, though. I should be more scared than I am. Is it because he's there? Is it because I trust him implicitly to watch my back? Or is it because I know whatever happens to him will happen to me. I wish I knew.

I hear the deep bark of John's rifle followed by a yell of pain and the thud of someone falling from a horse. I smile wolfishly: one down! I draw a bead on the lead rider approaching me. My shot rings out, a lighter, more high-pitched crack than his. My target's hand reaches convulsively for his shoulder as he tips backward out of the saddle. Good!

I hear John firing again, and then he's grabbing my arm and dragging me to the ground. My second shot is dragged wildly awry by his interference.

"Roxton!" I protest indignantly. I'm about to continue when I see the reason behind his action as a club swings overhead, missing us by scant inches. Still crouched, I start to turn so I can take another shot at my target. As I do, I feel an incredible pressure impacting against the side of my head. The hillside ripples then tilts nauseatingly. The last thing I remember hearing is an anguished voice crying my name.


Since when did I start going to funerals?

Whose funeral would I even bother going to? I had to admit: it was a woefully short list. I look around at the other mourners, trying to get a clue as to who died.

Mourners? No, I'm the only one here wearing black. At the back of the church I catch sight of Challenger, Veronica, Malone (now where the hell did he spring from?), and Finn. I can even make out Summerlee in the shadows at the back. They're all dressed as they were on the plateau. Each face is drawn with grief and accusation.

Challenger's sepulchral voice rings out, curiously suited to the ancient, vaulted church. "This is your fault, Marguerite. You brought him to this. He died because of you."

Oh my God, John! He's the only one not there. If not there, then where…?

I turn and run to the front of the church. Without any concerns over propriety, I push through the crowd gathered around an open coffin.

It's him.

I stare at him for an age. He can't be dead. He can't, he can't, he can't…

The crowd hasn't moved. I look up, wondering with numb disinterest who they are.

I recognise every one of them. Some wear uniforms, others wear suits, two are wearing the embroidered robes of a mandarin. Some of them I'm sure I killed, some I owe money to, most of them I've deceived at some time or another. Each one has reason to want me dead.

At last, Xan steps forward. "It was you we wanted, Marguerite. As for him; he's nothing. He just got in our way. He refused to give you up, so naturally he had to be disposed of."

I stumble backward, falling into Challenger. He looks at me without compassion. "It's all your fault, Marguerite. You might as well have put a gun to his head yourself."

No, no, no, no, no, no…


"NO!"

"Sh! It's alright, Marguerite. You're safe now." John's voice. He's holding me, cradled in his arms. There's a nervous, worried smile on his face. We're deep in the cover of the jungle. He must have carried me here. I notice torn strips of shirt, soaked with blood, wrapped around his knee.

"John, are you…?"

"Don't worry. It's not bad - probably looks worse than it is."

It would have been more convincing if he hadn't winced. He'd carried me from that hillside with an injured leg. What was it about the man that relentlessly drove him to protect others at such cost to himself? Did he think he had to prove something, to exculpate some past wrongdoing, or were we all beneficiaries of a man who simply put others' welfare so far in front of his own. I had no answers.

All my life I'd been more or less alone. I'd learned at an early age that to rely on someone was to leave yourself open to attack, that it was a vulnerability for others to exploit. I'd fondly believed I was most comfortable that way.

I was wrong. Then and there I knew I wanted to be with John, to no longer be alone.

I… trust him.

My mind rebels at such an alien concept, but it's been creeping up on me for such a long time now. I trust Lord John Roxton with my life. I trust him to be there when I need him.

But I dread getting out of here, returning to the dark, sordid, mercenary world where I'd once flourished. I dread what it would do to him. I wonder if my continued loneliness is not too high a price for his life. It's an odd sensation putting another person's welfare ahead of my own. He does it instinctively. I don't know whether to envy him or pity him.

We rest awhile in silence before returning home. We need to talk but we don't. Someday we will; we must, but there are so many things I need to think about first.

I now no longer want to be alone, but his death would be too high a price to pay.

-fin-


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