Written by Maru
Based on some situations originated by James Cameron.
Never let go.
The words rang in her ears as she struggled to stay awake. She couldn’t feel the cold breeze around her anymore, nor could she feel Jack’s hand almost frozen to hers. But she knew he was there, and that gave her the energy to stay awake, even though she felt exhausted.
Lying on a piece of wood Jack had found, Rose wondered if the boats were coming back. She hoped they were. Not for her, for him. Her lover was still in the freezing water of the Atlantic, and she knew he didn’t have much time.
She tried to turn to look at him, but she didn’t have the strength. And besides, something in her told her not to move. What if he was already dead?
Don’t think about that. Jack’s a survivor, right? He’ll be fine. She tried to convince herself of that, but the truth was that she was scared to death. She was terrified of what would happen to her if he didn’t make it.
Jack had turned her whole world upside down, and the most amazing thing was that she had only known him for a couple of days. In that short period of time, he had shown her a new world, a world where she could be happy for a change, a world where there wasn’t a Cal or a Ruth to make her feel miserable, a world where she and Jack could be together.
But that world had disappeared when the Titanic had hit an iceberg. Soon, she was back with her hideous fiancé and her selfish mother, reminding her that they needed Cal’s money to survive. For a moment, Rose had thought that she had to stay, but she had decided that she was not going to let them mess with her ever again. So, she had turned her back on her mother and fiancé, and she hadn’t looked back. She had gone to find her one and only love, Jack. And she had stayed with him.
This way, if she died this night, she would at least die in the arms of someone who actually cared for her.
But she wasn’t going to die. She had promised Jack that she would make it, that she would never give up, no mattered what happened. And she was not going to break that promise.
As the minutes went by, she began to feel more and more tired. She almost closed her eyes, but she thought about it twice, knowing that if she did, there was a chance that she wouldn’t wake up again. So, she started to whisper something, just to keep her mind busy. She didn’t think about what she was doing. The words just came and left her lips without her having to think about them. In the end, she recognized the song Jack had sung in her ear when they were flying.
"Come Josephine in my flying machine…"
She smiled at the memory.
All of a sudden, she saw a light. She forced herself to look at the horizon, and she saw it. It took her several seconds to realize that it was a boat, coming back to look for survivors.
"Is there anyone alive out there? Can anyone hear me?"
The words first seemed to come from a dream, but they were real. There was a boat! They were saved! She waited for Jack to make a move, but he didn’t seem to have noticed that something had happened.
"Jack, there’s a boat," she whispered, still looking at the boat. But Jack did not move. "Jack, there’s a boat," she said once again, this time moving her hand, where she knew Jack’s hand was, but she received no answer.
She forced herself to turn around.
"Jack…" she began to say, but the words froze on her lips when she saw him. He appeared to be asleep, but she knew that he wasn’t. He was… "No!" she said. "No, Jack. No!" She shook him with all the strength she had left. "Jack, there’s a boat…Jack…" Beaten by exhaustion, she collapsed on the door, sobbing. She took his hand to her lips and kissed it, over and over again, in a desperate attempt to warm at least one part of his body. "Jack…" she whispered between the kisses. "Don’t do this to me. Please!"
She couldn’t move; she didn’t want to move. She knew she had to do something if she wanted to survive, but she refused to leave Jack there. Not after everything he had done for her. It wouldn’t have been fair if she left without him.
In an answer to her prayers, she noticed that the boat had seen her and was coming to get her.
"We have one alive!" she heard someone saying moments later. "Come, miss. I’ll help you into the boat."
"Take him first," she replied, pointing at Jack.
The officer looked at the figure, whose whole body was under the water. Only his hands and his head were resting peacefully on the piece of wood.
"Miss, I think that man’s dead…" he said softly.
"No. He’s not dead. He’s just sleeping. But he’ll be dead if you don’t put him in the boat."
"All right. All right. We’ll take him, too. But first give me your hand."
Rose, knowing what the officer was trying to do, shook her head.
"No. Listen to me. I promised this man that I wasn’t going to let go, and, heaven help me, I won’t. I’m not going anywhere without him. So, you have two options--either you take both of us, or you can sail away and leave us alone. But if you choose the second one, you’ll have to live all your life knowing that you left a girl who was still alive to die in the Atlantic," she said with newfound energy. "So…what is it going to be?"
Officer Lowe looked around. They had already searched through most of the bodies, and only five of them were alive, so he had plenty of space in the boat. And besides, as she had said, he couldn’t leave the girl there to die.
"All right. You, there," he said, talking to a crewman who had come with him to help him with the search. "Give me a hand here. We are pulling him into the boat."
The two of them grabbed the unconscious boy and pulled him into the boat. Not for a second did Rose let his hand go.
"All right, miss. It is your turn now."
In a moment, they were sailing away. Rose, wrapped in several blankets, was lying on the bottom of the boat, holding tightly to Jack’s shirt. She wanted to cry, but she couldn’t. Her body was so frozen that she doubted she would ever be able to move again.
In the end, she did the only thing she seemed able to do. She closed her eyes and slept.
She woke up what seemed minutes later, but it was already morning and they had reached a ship. Rose read the name--Carpathia. She turned to look at Jack, who was in the exact same position that he had been in last night. The last hope that her heart had held since then disappeared. There had been a part of her that had thought it possible that he was alive.
"It’s our turn, miss," Officer Lowe told her. "Do you need help to climb?"
She forced herself to look away from the body of the man she loved and at the officer.
"It’s all right. I’m fine. Help Jack," she said.
She climbed up to the deck almost without help. She felt so bad psychologically that she hadn’t realized how sick she was. But when the nurse on the Carpathia noticed that she was still wet and very pale, she was guided to the ship’s hospital without being able to complain. Besides, she had lost the will to complain.
She followed the nurse like a ghost; she lay on a bed as she was told without thinking; she didn’t feel the blankets that were thrown over her still-cold body. The nurse closed the curtains around her bed to give her some privacy, but, again, she did not care. She just lay there, staring at the ceiling for what felt like hours.
A sudden noise woke her, but she remained where she was. She sat on the bed and listened carefully.
"Susan! Susan, come. Come quickly. We need you on the deck," a man said.
"What is it? Can’t it wait? I’m kind of busy right now," a woman, probably the nurse, replied.
"It’s the boy, the one we thought was dead. He moved."
Rose froze. Could it be that, after all, Jack was alive?
"Oh, my! Are you sure? Have you found his family yet?" the woman asked as she gathered some things.
"No. Not yet. We are still looking. Lowe said that he found him in the water, alone with a red-haired woman, but when we got here, he lost track of her."
Rose jumped from the bed and opened the curtains. The man and woman looked at her, shocked.
"Miss, what are you doing standing up? You need to rest…" the nurse said, guiding her back to bed, but Rose refused to move.
"No. You don’t understand. The man…the man you thought was dead…I know him. He’s my beau," she said desperately.
"Oh…well, in that case, stay here while I go and see what I can do for him."
"No. No, I’m fine. I have to see him. Please…"
She looked so desperate that the woman finally agreed.
"Where do you have him?" the nurse asked the officer as the three of them ran through the corridors.
"He’s in one of our rooms. We were taking him to the steerage section, thinking that he was dead, when he moved, so we put him in the first place we found, and I went to look for you."
"That was a smart thing to do."
They finally got to the room. The first thing they saw when they opened the door was a man kneeling next to the bed and a bunch of stewards surrounding him.
"I brought you Nurse Roberts, Dr. Nichol," the officer said.
"Good. Come, Mrs. Roberts. This boy needs us."
The nurse knelt next to the doctor and they started doing something. Rose remained a little behind, scared of what she might see if she got any closer. Suddenly, one of the men who was in the room turned and saw her. Rose recognized him; he was Lowe.
"That’s the girl who was with him in the water."
Everybody turned to look at her.
"Is your name Rose, by any chance?" the doctor asked when he noticed her.
"He’s been calling for you."
Rose had to grab the doorframe for support.
"Is…is he…he’s awake?" she whispered.
Pulling herself together, Rose walked the few steps to the bed. Jack was lying there, covered with blankets. He didn’t look any better now than he had looked when she had last seen him. She dropped to her knees.
"J-Jack?" she called, trying not to cry.
His eyes flew open.
She smiled at the sound of his voice. Just ten minutes ago, she had thought it impossible that she would ever hear that voice again, and yet, here he was.
"I thought you had let go," he whispered.
"How could I? I couldn’t possibly, Jack," she answered, shaking her head.
The officers and the nurse smiled at the scene. The doctor said something about how Jack’s life was no longer in great danger, and they left the lovers alone. Jack and Rose hardly listened to them. They had eyes only for each other.
"When I woke up on the deck and didn’t see you there…I panicked. I had no idea of where you were and I thought that something might’ve happened to you."
"Tell me about it! When I tried to wake you…thank God Officer Lowe agreed to pull you into the boat, too."
She rested her head on his chest and let him caress her hair.
"You gave the never let go thing a whole new meaning. I’m so glad I made you promise that," he commented.
She laughed. "I wasn’t going to leave you there anyway, with or without the promise. But it gave me the strength. I can’t tell you how hard I had to fight against myself when I was there. It felt so bad that I wanted it to end. But that promise reminded me that I had to fight."
She felt his still-cold lips on her forehead and turned to look at him.
"I can’t believe that I’m actually stronger than you," she said, half-serious.
He laughed. "Are you suggesting that I’m weak?"
"What? No! How could I?" Rose pretended to be shocked.
"No. You are right. I am weak…"
"Jack, I was only joking!" She sat on the bed, thinking that she might’ve hurt his feelings.
Noticing her concern, he smiled before explaining. "I mean…I used to be this…thoughtless man with no worries in his head. I used to live from day to day without minding what the future might bring. But today I…I stopped being that man. When I woke up on the deck, I could only think of you. And until you came and I was sure that you were fine, I was worried sick. Rose, if anything should happen to you, I…I don’t know what I would do. Seriously."
Rose loved this man from the bottom of her heart, but she had always feared that he meant more to her than she did to him. This confession, however, changed all that.
Jack, aware of her shock, added, "Yes, Rose, that was a…a love declaration. But I guess there’s something missing, right? I haven’t said the actual words yet. Okay…here it comes…Rose, I love you."
It took her several seconds to react. When she finally spoke, she said, "I can’t believe that you actually said it! To tell you the truth, I never thought you capable of saying it."
"I never thought myself capable! I guess I never expected to find someone so great. Look what you’ve done to me, Rose."
They both laughed.
"I love you, too, Jack. But I guess you already knew that, right?"
Jack was still not feeling great, but he found energy enough to lean in to kiss his loving Rose. When he pulled away, he nearly collapsed on the bed.
"I’m such a horrible person. I shouldn’t be letting you do these things!" she said, fixing the pillow and the blankets.
"I would’ve done it anyway," he replied. "I’m so tired right now…if I sleep, do you promise to stay out of trouble?"
As a reply, she threw her arms around his shoulders and rested her head on his chest, hearing his heartbeat.
"I will if you do."
Jack kissed her forehead once again and closed his eyes, too tired to do anything else. He loved having Rose like that and he couldn’t think of anything that would make him happier than staying like that forever.
And he decided that he would. He would have Rose like that forever, and he would make her the happiest woman in the whole wide world; no matter what she needed, he would give it to her.
And he knew just the way to start.
"Rose?" She didn’t reply. She just made some noise to show him that she was listening. "Would you marry me?"