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12 May 2009 @ 12:01 am
Love is Blind Part 1  
Title: Love is Blind
Rating: Mature, R
Disclaimer: Jeeves & Wooster belong to Wodehouse.
Warning: Mature themes, with mention of suicide
Summary: An illness sends the lives of Bertie and Jeeves into a tailspin. 43,000 words.
A/N: Once I sent Bertie and Jeeves down this path, I had to see them through to the end of it. My gratitude goes to chaoticchaos13  for excellent beta work, endless encouragement, and for assuring me the effort was worthwhile. All mistakes belong to me.

  “I say, Jeeves, I think I’ve got what Oofy Prosser has which was given to him last week by Bingo Little,” Bertie said as he entered the flat after dinner one evening.
     Bertie handed Jeeves his hat, gloves and walking stick and then proceeded to the chesterfield where he flopped upon it, his long limbs spreading out in all directions. He leaned back and closed his eyes.
     “Are you ill, sir?” Jeeves asked as he placed Bertie’s things in the foyer closet.
“Immeasurably so, Jeeves.”
     Jeeves approached his employer, scrutinizing the tense lines in his forehead and his clenched eyelids. Bertie was rarely ill and had never had more than a cold in the five years Jeeves had known him.
     “What are your symptoms, sir?” he asked, already considering what he might do to alleviate Bertie’s misery.
     “My head feels like someone’s using it for a bass drum, and a chorus line is dancing in my stomach. I’m ashamed to admit it, Jeeves, but I sicked up a bit over at the Drones. In the loo, of course.”
     “It does sound like a case of influenza, or perhaps dinner didn’t agree with you?”
Bertie placed his hands over his eyes. “Couldn’t have been dinner or Tuppy would have beat me to the loo.”
     “Influenza, sir,” Jeeves said. “Would you like me to phone your physician?”
     Bertie waved a hand dismissively. “I don’t want to drag the old sawbones from his lair. He might decide I need a rest in some convalescent home.” He opened his eyes and sat up straight. “If you could prepare me your best home remedies and help me to bed, that should do it, Jeeves. I should feel right as rain in the morning.”

     Jeeves was awakened in the early morning hours by a knock at the door of his quarters. He rose at once, donned his dressing gown and opened the door to find Bertie leaning just outside the doorway, his eyes closed and his face wearing a pained expression.
     “I say, Jeeves, so sorry to disturb your beauty sleep, but I’m not feeling quite the thing.”
     Jeeves observed Bertie’s pallor and obvious pain, took his arm and ushered him into the sitting room, then switched on a nearby lamp.
     “It’s my bally eyes, Jeeves,” he said as he sat on the chesterfield. “It feels like someone’s chopping at them with knives.”
     Jeeves dropped to his knees in front of Bertie who was leaning forward, his palms covering his eyes.
     “Sir, please allow me to examine them,” Jeeves said. “If you could move your hands, sir.”
     Bertie took his hands away and allowed Jeeves to gently pull apart the lids of his right eye. The white was terribly red and inflamed, and a radically enlarged pupil overshadowed the once-brilliant blue iris. Jeeves examined the left eye and found it to be no better.
     “Sir,” he said. “How is your vision? What can you see?”
     Bertie opened his eyes to mere slits.
     “Everything’s off, Jeeves,” he said, and Jeeves could hear the panic in his voice. “You don’t look right. All fuzzy. It was fuzzy at the Drones, too. It thought it was just the smoke.” He covered his eyes once more and began rocking back and forth. “My God, Jeeves, my head is killing me.”
     “I am calling your doctor, sir.” Jeeves went to the telephone and rang up Bertie's physician. After a whispered conference, he rang off and returned to Bertie’s side.
     “The doctor is coming, sir,” Jeeves said, mastering his fear. “Allow me to escort you back to your room.”
     Jeeves helped him to his feet, but Bertie swayed against him and almost fell back onto the chesterfield.
     “Jeeves,” he moaned. “I’m going to be sick.”
     Jeeves helped him to the bathroom, then held him as he vomited into the bathtub. Jeeves wiped Bertie’s mouth with a towel and urged him toward the bed. Jeeves thought the headache and nausea indicated influenza, but Bertie’s inflamed eyes and blurred vision almost certainly meant something more serious.
     Once under the blankets, Bertie immediately curled himself into a fetal position, his hands once again covering his eyes.
     "Jeeves,” he said, his voice tight. “Can you help me?”
     Jeeves knelt beside the bed and spoke softly next to his ear. “I am going to fetch an ice pack, sir. It will only take a few moments.”
     He went to the kitchen and filled the ice pack, trying not to think the worst, then hurried back to Bertie’s side.
     “Here, sir, allow me to place this on your eyes.”
     Jeeves didn’t wait for an answer but pulled Bertie’s hands away and placed the pack over his eyes and forehead and held it there.
     Bertie shivered and then a dry sob escaped from his throat.
     “It hurts, Jeeves,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He placed one trembling hand over Jeeves’ fingers. Tears leaked from beneath the ice pack and dripped down Bertie’s nose and onto the pillow beneath his head. His fingers closed over Jeeves’ and squeezed them tight.
     “The doctor is coming, sir.” Jeeves said as he held Bertie’s hand. “Don’t fight the pain, sir. Try to breathe.”
     He continued speaking to Bertie in a soft voice, but Bertie continued to cry like a frightened child. Jeeves placed his free hand on Bertie’s mussed hair and threaded his fingers through the unruly curls, an action he knew he never would have dared take under normal circumstances. The fingers in his hair seemed to soothe Bertie, and Jeeves found the action calming as well. Bertie’s breathing slowed into a regular cadence as if he were trying to follow his valet’s instructions. Jeeves willed himself to believe everything would be all right because he knew he was not prepared to believe anything else.
     The door buzzer broke the stillness.
     “That will be the doctor, sir. I shall return with him at once.”
     Bertie released Jeeves’ hand. “Come right back, Jeeves, all right?”
     “Of course, sir,” Jeeves said as he left the room to answer the door to Dr. James Faber. The bespectacled doctor was tall and gaunt with a kind face and a brisk attitude. The man's gaze met his in a direct manner and Jeeves could immediately see that Dr. Faber was a physician well-versed in the suffering of others.
    “Thank you for coming out so late, sir,” Jeeves said after introducing himself. “Let me show you to his room.”
     When they reached it Jeeves saw that Bertie had been sick again. Vomit trickled from his pillow and down the side of the mattress to the floor.
      “Sorry, Jeeves,” he said in a faraway voice. “I can’t seem to get up.”
     “It is of no matter, sir. The doctor is here to see you.”
     “Turn all the lights on, Jeeves,” the doctor said without waste of time, “and we’ll see what we’ve got here. I’ll give him something for the pain after I’ve examined him.”
     Jeeves removed the ice pack from Bertie’s face. His damp lashes and wet cheeks glistened in the lamplight. Jeeves’ heart constricted and he wanted to gather Bertie into his arms and wipe away his tears and his pain. Jeeves swallowed the lump in his throat and forced himself to pay attention to the doctor who was even now gently opening Bertie’s eyelids.
     “When did this start, Mr. Wooster? Can you tell me?”
     Bertie’s mouth opened and closed several times before he spoke. “About dinner time.”
     The doctor peered into Bertie’s swollen eyes. Jeeves could see the pupils had dilated even more than when he’d first seen them.
    The doctor looked at Jeeves. “The nausea I’ve seen. What else?”
     “Mr. Wooster is dizzy and told me his vision is blurred.”
     The doctor turned to Bertie. “Look at the light for me, sir, if you can. Then I’ll give you something to help you sleep.”
     “Rainbows,” Bertie muttered, then pressed his palms over his eyes once more.
     The doctor sighed and shook his head several times as he drew up what Jeeves took to be a morphine injection.
     He cleared this throat before he spoke. “I’m sorry, Mr. Wooster, that I can’t couch this in better terms. And there is no point in mincing words here. You’ve got what’s called acute glaucoma and I’m very sorry to tell you there’s nothing to be done. It’s robbing you of your eyesight, sir. Again, I’m terribly sorry.”
     Bertie uncovered his eyes. “I say, Dr. F. Could you repeat that?”
     “Mr. Wooster, you are losing your eyesight. I can’t say it any plainer than that.”
     “You’ve got to be kidding. This is no time to be pulling the Wooster leg, doctor.”
     “Sir, I can assure you I am not,” Dr. Faber said.
     Bertie moaned suddenly, whether in pain or fear or both, Jeeves did not know.
     “No!” Bertie cried as he tried to sit up. “Tell him, Jeeves! Tell him ‘no!’”
     “Doctor,” Jeeves said as he moved to Bertie’s side. “Are you quite certain of this?”
     “As certain as I can be, Jeeves. In my many years of practice I’ve seen one other case and heard about two more. But we’ll talk about that later. Right now, we’ve got to give him this morphine. The pain in his head will drive him mad if we don’t.”
     Bertie was sobbing hard now and had pulled himself up, apparently trying to leave his bed. The motion caused him to vomit once more.     Jeeves took Bertie in his arms, heedless of the mess on his employer’s pyjamas.
     “Oh, my God!” he cried into Jeeves’ shoulder. “Tell him to fix it, Jeeves! Tell him!”
     Jeeves suppressed the urge to weep, held Bertie tightly and whispered in his ear, “I am here, sir. I will always be here.”
     Sobs wracked Bertie’s body and Jeeves could feel Bertie’s terror in every shudder, in every gasp as if they were his own. Bertie’s arms   wound around Jeeves’ neck and he held onto his valet as if he were the last safe harbor on earth. The doctor pushed up Bertie’s sleeve and gave him the injection, and Jeeves could feel Bertie’s body relax by degrees until he was unconscious.
     Jeeves laid him carefully on his pillows, overwhelmed by grief. Bertie’s crystal blue eyes, so filled with light, so bright with joy, would be useless to him now.
     The doctor cleared his throat again. “Jeeves.”
     “Yes, sir,” Jeeves said, continuing to gaze at Bertie.
     “After you’ve made him comfortable, please come and talk to me outside,” the doctor said. “I’ll make us a drink. You’re going to need it.”
     And with that ominous proclamation, he packed his bag and left the room.
     Jeeves forced aside his anguish. He had no choice. He divested Bertie of his soiled pyjamas, then fetched a damp cloth to wash his face and hands. He redressed Bertie in clean nightclothes, then tidied the sheets and his own dressing gown as best he could. The floor and bathtub would have to wait.
     This done, He knelt beside Bertie’s bed so that he could whisper in his ear.
     “I will return directly, sir. I must speak to the doctor, but I won’t be long.”
     Jeeves knew Bertie couldn’t hear him, but he needed to reassure himself. He brushed his fingers across Bertie’s cheek, shivering a little at that brief, innocent contact.
     The doctor was waiting for him with the promised drink.
     “Let’s have a seat, Jeeves.” He indicated the chairs in the sitting room. Jeeves waited for him to be seated, then took a chair himself.
     Dr. Faber drank half his glass before he spoke. “Jeeves, you and Mr. Wooster are in for some difficult days, months even. If Mr. Wooster is not blind by tomorrow morning, he will be, for all intents and purposes, by the afternoon or evening at best. He might be able to distinguish light from dark, but that would be the extent of it. You said he told you his vision is blurred?”
     Jeeves nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
     “He also mentioned rainbows. I have heard that patients with acute glaucoma see prisms or rainbows around a source of light.”
     Jeeves shook his head in confusion. “How did this happen, doctor? Mr. Wooster is rarely ill. And I have read that glaucoma is treatable to a certain degree.”
     The doctor shook his head. “Has nothing to do with the patient’s health or age or anything like that, as far as we know. But what we have are two kinds of glaucoma. One is treatable. The kind your Mr. Wooster has is more complicated. The first comes on slowly, while the acute type attacks without warning. We don't fully understand it.”
     He tossed back the rest of his drink. “Jeeves, you’ve got to accept this. He’s not going to recover his sight. It’s too bad it struck both eyes, but there it is. The drainage canals in Mr. Wooster’s eyes are blocked, causing pressure to build and swell the eye. When the pressure subsides, the eyes will shrink, but they’ll be smaller than their normal size. The pain should subside then. But that could take months. He will not be able to stand the pain that long, and we cannot have him on morphine to deal with it.
     “Jeeves, I’m very sorry to say this, but Mr. Wooster’s eyes should be removed. He will never be able to see again and he will be in constant pain. There would be no point in retaining the eyes.”
     Jeeves’ mind raced, barely able to comprehend this terrible prognosis. “And you are certain of this, doctor? There can be no mistake?”
     “There’s no mistake. We do have a couple of things we can do to help him, but they are not very effective. There are eyedrops that can alleviate some of the pain, but they will not arrest his vision loss nor will they restore it, even if I had some and used them immediately. I’ve also heard of cutting into the iris to make artificial drainage canals, but the chance of infection is so great that he would likely lose his eyes anyway.”
     He placed his glass on the table.
     “There’s something else, Jeeves. You’ve been in his employ how long?”
     “Five years, sir.”
     “He trusts you then, depends on you?”
     “Of course, sir.”
     The doctor nodded. “This is going to sound harsh. Your Mr. Wooster is a young man, as are you. If you had any idea of eventually leaving his service, I would recommend doing so now. He will depend on you more and more as time progresses. If you aren’t staying with him for the duration it would be kinder to leave now. Have him go to his family and live out his years with them.”
     “Are you suggesting I abandon him now, sir?” Jeeves asked, affronted at the idea.
     The doctor held up his hands in a placating manner. “I wouldn’t call it that, Jeeves. All I’m saying is that Mr. Wooster could live another forty or fifty years or even longer with this affliction. That would be a life sentence for you as well if you intend to remain with him.”
     The doctor stood and stretched his back. “I will send a nurse along later this morning with another injection. She will help you do what's necessary for Mr. Wooster. Get him up and moving so that he can use the bathroom, then she’ll give him the morphine. I will speak to him tomorrow afternoon about what should be done because that must be his decision, of course.”
     Jeeves nodded in understanding, wanting the doctor to take his leave. Bertie needed him at his side and he’d been gone too long already.
     “The nurse can explain everything else,” the doctor said. “I shall see you both tomorrow afternoon.”
     Jeeves saw Dr. Faber on his way, then returned to Bertie. His employer looked as if he were sleeping during any normal night. Jeeves turned off all the lights save one bedside lamp, then proceeded to clean up the vomit near the bed and in the bathtub. Once that was done, he pulled a chair close to the bed, thinking he would sit with Bertie for a moment before preparing himself for what was certain to be a difficult day.
     Bertie was deeply asleep. His breathing was regular and even, and a slight frown marred his forehead.
     Tears welled in Jeeves’ eyes and for once he allowed them to fall. Bertie’s beautiful blue eyes were growing dimmer by the moment. He would never again see the New York skyline from the deck of an ocean liner, the excitement of a rugby match or the faces of his lifelong friends. There would be no light, no gaiety, no staring at Jeeves as if he were actually the miracle worker Bertie professed him to be.
A blush crept up Jeeves’ neck and he bowed his head in shame for thinking about himself instead of Bertie. But now Bertie would never see how much Jeeves loved him. I should have told him years ago, Jeeves thought, just so that he could see it in my eyes, if only just once.
     Jeeves reached out to touch Bertie’s hair, then withdrew his hand. But what did it matter now? He touched a stray lock of hair that had fallen over Bertie’s forehead, then threaded his fingers through the mussed curls. The silky strands teased his fingertips and Jeeves shuddered at how the simple touch stirred his heart. Jeeves knew then that he must declare himself even if Bertie could not hear him.
Jeeves bent toward Bertie’s ear, his fingers still in his employer’s hair.
     “I will never leave you, Bertie,” he whispered. “I give you my word. I am here not out of pity, but because I love you. I have always loved you. I cannot say what will happen now, but know that I will be with you through everything.”
Jeeves withdrew his hand and pulled the blankets closer around Bertie’s chest. Jeeves stood then and as he gazed at the sleeping man, a new resolve gripped him. Jeeves would see Bertie through this and when Bertie was stronger, he would be told everything. Perhaps it wasn’t too late.
     Jeeves washed and dressed, checked to see that Bertie was still sleeping, then fetched a pencil and a sheet of paper and fell into the comforting routine of planning and organizing. At first, Jeeves thought it wrong to seek solace for himself, but he knew it would not do to hover over Bertie and wring his hands. Bertie would expect him to be strong.
     The nurse was scheduled to arrive in several hours. Jeeves hoped Bertie would remain asleep until just before she arrived. Then Jeeves would help him use the bathroom and change the soiled bedding.
Jeeves dreaded the terrible task of informing Bertie’s family and friends. Mrs. Travers first, he thought, and she could carry on from there with her relatives. Bertie’s friends, however, were another matter. While in general they were a likable group of young men, Jeeves knew they were frivolous to a fault and many times acted without regard for others. Few of them had suffered hardship and he was not certain how they would cope with Bertie now. It would be best if Bertie told his friends himself, Jeeves decided, or perhaps Mrs. Travers would wish to take on that task.
     With his notes made, there was little to do but wait.
     Jeeves dozed in the chair beside Bertie’s bed for a short while, but came fully awake when Bertie stirred. His legs shifted restlessly and his frown deepened, and Jeeves feared Bertie would awaken and find himself in intense pain. Bertie mumbled a few indiscernible words and then once again pressed his palms over his eyes.
     Jeeves leaned forward and placed his hand on Bertie’s forehead. Bertie eventually relaxed once more. His hands fell to the bed and his breathing deepened. And as he drifted back into sleep, Jeeves found himself calmer as well.

     Bertie stirred just as dawn was breaking. Jeeves had prepared a fresh ice pack in the event his employer should find himself in pain, as well as aspirin and a glass of water. The nurse would not be along for some time, and Jeeves hoped these simple remedies would at least provide some relief until she arrived.
     Bertie opened his eyes to mere slits, blinked rapidly, then groaned and covered his eyes.
     “Sir,” Jeeves said, keeping his voice low and level. “Are you in pain?”
     “Jeeves,” he said. “Jeeves, my eyes...”
     “Sir, allow me to help you. I have aspirin and water, and a nurse will be here soon with something a little stronger.”
     Jeeves slid his arm under Bertie’s shoulders and lifted him, taking care not to move too quickly for fear Bertie might vomit again. Bertie opened his mouth and Jeeves placed the aspirins on his tongue, then helped him to drink the water.
     Jeeves laid Bertie back upon his pillows and sat down again. Bertie was still blinking as if he were trying to focus his gaze on some distant object. The question had to be asked.
     “Sir, please tell me what you can see.”
     Bertie turned his head toward Jeeves and opened his eyes a trifle wider. Jeeves’ heart fell to his shoes. The swollen eyes were still inflamed and the blue irises had taken on a sickly green cast.
     “Jeeves,” he whispered. He lifted his hand toward Jeeves’ face. Without thinking, Jeeves captured the hand and pressed it to his own cheek.
     “Jeeves,” he said again. “You’re all funny.”
     “Sir,” Jeeves said, trying to keep his voice steady. “Do you remember what the doctor said?”
     Bertie either hadn’t heard Jeeves or had chosen to ignore the question. His hand went limp against Jeeves’ cheek, and Jeeves had no excuse to hold it there. Jeeves placed Bertie’s hand on top of the blankets, then sat and guarded him as he slept once more.

     The nurse arrived at seven o’clock. Bertie remained asleep, but wouldn’t for long, the nurse, who introduced herself as Mrs. Beck, assured Jeeves.
     “The morphine will wear off, and he’ll need another injection. But before that, we must help him to use the bathroom. He cannot be treated like an invalid, Mr. Jeeves, but I’m sure you know that. He must keep control of everything, as far as is possible.”
Jeeves ushered her into Bertie’s room whereupon she began to unpack her bag. She moved to Bertie’s side and gently touched his shoulder.
      “Mr. Wooster,” she said, her voice kind but firm. “You must wake up now.”
     Bertie’s forehead creased and his lips pressed together, whether in pain or in anger, Jeeves could not determine.
     “Perhaps he still is feeling the effects of the morphine, Mrs. Beck.”
     She shook her head. “He's not waking up because he doesn’t want to do so.” She touched his shoulder again, more firmly this time. “Sir, it is time to wake up.”
     Bertie stirred then, but only to cover his eyes with his hands.
     “Sir,” the nurse said, “we need...”
     “What I need is for you to leave me alone,” he said, before groaning in pain. “Jeeves, make her go away.”
     Jeeves shook his head, and the realization that Bertie could not see the gesture filled him with fresh sorrow. But Bertie could not be allowed to know that.
     “Sir,” Jeeves said as he leaned over Bertie. “I will help you to the bathroom. It would be a great convenience to me if you would agree. Your bedding needs to be freshened.”
    A deep sigh escaped Bertie, but then he nodded in acquiescence. Jeeves slid his arm under Bertie’s shoulders once more and lifted him carefully into a sitting position. Jeeves moved the blankets aside so that Bertie could slide his legs over the side of the bed.
     “Are you dizzy at all, sir?”
     “Let’s get him to his feet, then,” Mrs. Beck said.
     Jeeves pulled Bertie’s left arm over his shoulder and placed his right arm around Bertie’s waist and then lifted him.
     Bertie stood, but he was so weak he almost fell against Jeeves. Mrs. Beck moved to assist them, but Jeeves shook his head.
     “Mr. Wooster and I can manage, Mrs. Beck. If you would see to the linens? There is a small closet in the hallway containing sheets and pillowcases.”
     “Of course, Mr. Jeeves.”
    They progressed to the bathroom in small, awkward steps, but at last they were inside the small room. Jeeves closed the door to allow Bertie some measure of privacy. Jeeves helped Bertie to the toilet, unsure for a moment as to how much he should do for him.
     “Sir, do you require my assistance now?” Jeeves asked.
     But Bertie only shook his head and proceeded to pull down his pyjama trousers. Jeeves watched him surreptitiously to ensure he didn’t fall.
     He didn’t. He merely sat there with his face in his hands. Jeeves busied himself at the sink, unwilling to leave Bertie alone. But then he’d never been with him in the bathroom like this.
     “Sir,” Jeeves said. “I shall leave you in privacy if you like.”
      When Bertie said nothing, Jeeves turned toward the door, but the sound of a quiet sob arrested him. Jeeves turned and saw that Bertie was crying again.
     “Sir,” Jeeves said, “I know the pain is terrible. When you are finished, I will help you to bed. The nurse will give you something so you can sleep.”
     He shook his head. “Not the pain, Jeeves.” He wiped his nose with his pyjama sleeve, then hesitated for a moment. When he spoke the words came in a rush.
      “Jeeves, I can’t even see to wipe my own arse.”
     Jeeves had not thought of this, of all the simple, routine actions taken for granted, and the privacy those actions required.
     “Sir,” Jeeves began, “Please allow me to help you. I will teach you to manage. And you will do it. You will not believe me now, but I have faith in your strength.”
     He looked at Jeeves through his slitted eyes. “All right, Jeeves. My bally head hurts so much I can’t think anymore.”
     “Here, sir.” Jeeves handed him a handkerchief. “If you’ll wipe your face, I will leave you for a moment. Please do not try to return on your own.”
     He nodded in a hopeless fashion. The doctor had been right, Jeeves thought. Only the pain had been keeping Bertie from lashing out in a rage. Jeeves tried not to think what Bertie would do when he no longer had the pain to distract him.
     Jeeves entered the bedroom to find Mrs. Beck fluffing the pillows.
     “You left him alone, Mr. Jeeves? I couldn’t recommend that.”
     “He is a grown man, Mrs. Beck. He should have his privacy there of all places.”
     She placed her hands on her hips. “What if he falls?”
    “Then I shall pick him up.”
     Jeeves gave Bertie ten minutes on his own, then knocked on the bathroom door.
     “Come in, Jeeves.”
     He remained where Jeeves had left him, still seated on the toilet.
     “If you are finished, sir, I will help you tidy yourself so that you may return to bed.”
     He turned his face in Jeeves’ direction. “Tidy myself? That’s what you call it?”
     Jeeves didn’t answer. Bertie’s anger was simmering just below the surface and Jeeves knew it would take very little to ignite it.
Jeeves could tell Bertie had already made an attempt to clean himself. Jeeves made a quick but thorough job of it, then turned away from Bertie to wash his hands. But his employer wasn’t finished.
     “Is this what they tell you in valet school to expect, Jeeves? That you’ll be wiping the young master’s arse as if he were a slobbering two-year-old? So what will you do now that I don’t measure up to the required standard?”
     His words cut Jeeves and left him breathless, but he understood the fear underlying the question. He gripped the sides of the sink and breathed deeply, knowing he could not rise to the bait or rush to defend himself.
     “Sir, allow me to help you to the sink to wash your hands.”
     “You didn’t answer me, Jeeves.”
      Jeeves turned to face him. “Sir, you will always measure up to the required standard. I have no doubt about that.”
     Bertie said nothing at this, but pulled his pyjama trousers up past his knees and attempted to stand. Jeeves caught his arm as he tilted to the side, but he shrugged off Jeeves’ hand and proceeded to pull the garment up past his hips. Jeeves guided him to the sink and urged him to wash.
     Bertie nodded in that same hopeless fashion, felt around for the soap and managed to turn on the water. After he finished, Jeeves handed him a towel.
     “Thank you, Jeeves.”
     “You are welcome, sir.”
     Jeeves took his arm to guide him back to bed, but Bertie stopped him just before they reached the door.
     “Yes, sir?”
     Bertie took a deep breath as tears began to trickle down his cheeks. He scrubbed his face with his sleeve before he spoke.
     “If you want to leave me, I won’t stop you. I...I wouldn’t want to stay with me, either. I mean to say, you didn’t sign on for this...”
    “Sir,” Jeeves said. “I beg you not to worry about this now. I will see to everything, and rest assured I will be here when you awaken.”
     Bertie nodded, apparently unwilling to argue the point. “I hope your Mrs. Beck has plenty of the goods in her bag of tricks. My head hurts.”
     Jeeves led him into the bedroom and tucked him under the covers, then offered a glass of water. Mrs. Beck was there, her needle drawn and ready.
     “Mr. Wooster,” Jeeves said before the nurse could inject the morphine. “I should like to telephone Mrs. Travers and ask her to come.”
      “You know best, Jeeves.” He held his arm out to the nurse. “Do your worst, Mrs. Beck.”
     The nurse left the flat a short time later, assuring Jeeves the doctor would call in the afternoon. Mr. Wooster would sleep for some time, she said. A light meal could be prepared if Bertie was hungry when he awakened, she added.
     After she had taken her leave, Jeeves telephoned Brinkley Court. Mrs. Dahlia Travers was Bertie’s favorite aunt and Jeeves had long considered her a woman of great good sense despite her scheming nature.
     Seppings, Mrs. Travers’ butler, answered the telephone.
     “Brinkley Court. Seppings speaking.”
     “Mr. Seppings, this is Jeeves, Mr. Wooster’s man. I apologize for telephoning at this hour, but the matter is urgent.”
     “Madam isn’t up as yet, Mr. Jeeves. Might I have her telephone you when she comes down to breakfast?”
     Jeeves did not allow his voice to betray his irritation. “Mr. Seppings, the matter is quite urgent. I am certain she will take my call.”
     Jeeves could hear Seppings’ harassed sigh. “Very well, Mr. Jeeves. I will have her maid awaken her.”
     Jeeves waited some ten minutes before he heard Mrs. Travers penetrating voice on the line.
     “If that young blot is in jail, he can remain there,” she said without preamble. “Jeeves, you know I won’t...”
     “Madam,” Jeeves said. “I am sorry to interrupt you, but Mr. Wooster is ill and has asked you to come.”
     Her voice changed at once. “Ill? Whatever is wrong with him?”
     “I am afraid, madam,” Jeeves said and closed him eyes. Somehow he forced the words past the lump in his throat. “that he has had an attack of acute glaucoma. Madam, he is going blind.”
     “I will be on the next train to London, Jeeves.” Her voice broke a little, but Jeeves could hear her take a deep, steadying breath. “Is there anything you need?”
     “No madam. It is kind of you to ask, but we are well-provisioned for the time being.”
     “Good enough. I’ll be with you very shortly.”
     She rang off without another word and left Jeeves alone with his thoughts.

     After casting an eye over Bertie once more, Jeeves busied himself with preparing the guest room for Mrs. Travers, gathering soiled laundry and making a list of necessary errands.
     Bertie awakened again at the lunch hour. Jeeves helped him to the bathroom once again and inquired as to whether his employer was hungry.
     “I don’t want anything, Jeeves, not now. I just want to sleep.”
     “Bed, Jeeves,” he said, and an unfamiliar steely note crept into his voice. “I just want to sleep.”
     “Very good, sir.”
     Jeeves helped Bertie into bed and fetched an ice pack for his eyes and forehead. Bertie accepted it, and when Jeeves would have withdrawn from the room, Bertie held out his hand.
     “Can you stay for a bit, Jeeves? Until I fall asleep? I’m having the rummiest dreams.”
     “Certainly, sir.” Jeeves took a seat in the bedside chair. “What sort of dreams are you having?”
     “I’m dreaming this is all a rum joke, and when I wake up it won’t be true.”
     “What am I going to do, Jeeves?” His voice had a frantic edge. “I’m so bally frightened. What if there’s a fire? And I wanted to go to New York again and now we can’t.”
     His hands fell from atop the ice pack to lie uselessly on the blankets. “Jeeves,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “I want to die. I really do.”
     Jeeves couldn’t speak. He had no idea what to say, and any words of comfort seemed trite, placating and pointless. Jeeves picked up one of Bertie’s limp hands and squeezed it between his own.
     “You know the worst thing, Jeeves?” He turned his sightless eyes toward Jeeves. “I’ll never see you again. I will miss your crooked nose, Jeeves, and how you raise your eyebrows that little bit. And watching you come up with some wheeze to get me out of yet another engagement.” He tried to laugh but the sound emerged as a groan. “I won’t have to worry about that any longer, will I, Jeeves? Who would want me now?”
     I would, Jeeves thought. I would love you and cherish you until my dying day.
    Jeeves squeezed Bertie’s hand again, still not trusting himself to speak. Without considering the consequences, he placed Bertie’s palm on his face. Bertie’s fingers touched Jeeves’ ear and then trailed across his cheekbone to his nose. Jeeves felt Bertie trace his nose up and down, pausing on the spot where he’d broken it years ago.
     Bertie smiled a little, then he pulled his hand away to let it lie on the blankets.
     Jeeves watched Bertie until his deep breathing revealed him to be asleep once more. Bertie’s revelations shook Jeeves to his core. He had thought Bertie would miss seeing the latest shows, reading his beloved mystery novels and carousing with his friends. But Bertie had said he would miss looking at Jeeves and his unremarkable features.
     The buzzer intruded on his thoughts. Jeeves hurried to the door and opened it to admit Mrs. Travers, looking red-eyed but still in control. Jeeves relieved the doorman of her luggage and invited her inside the flat.
     “My young blot, Jeeves, how is he?” she asked as she removed her coat and handed it to him.
     “It is difficult to say, madam. He is sleeping much of the time, but when he is awake he expresses considerable fear. Anyone else in his circumstances would feel the same way, I am sure.”
     “Has the doctor been here today?”
    Jeeves shook his head. “He is due at some point this afternoon. Mr. Wooster had a morphine injection early this morning and will have another when the doctor arrives, madam.”
     “I shall see him now, Jeeves.”
     Jeeves nodded. “Very good, madam. Would you like luncheon, madam?”
     “No, not just now. But if you’d bring me a good stiff belt, I’d appreciate it.”
     Jeeves deposited her baggage in the guest room and then prepared her drink, performing the familiar actions without a second thought. He couldn’t help but think about what they would be doing if this were a normal day in Bertie’s life.
     Jeeves found Mrs. Travers seated in the chair next to her nephew’s bed. She was speaking softly to him, but as far as Jeeves could discern, Bertie wasn’t responding. Jeeves gave Mrs. Travers her drink and then went to stand on the other side of the bed.
      “I expect you two look like professional mourners,” Bertie said, his voice burning with sarcasm. It was a voice so unlike his own amiable one, Jeeves thought, the voice of a stranger. “Come to visit the poor, blind nephew, aged kinswoman?”
      Mrs. Travers raised her eyebrows at this, but her voice did not reveal any discomfiture.
     “You’re not poor at any rate, Bertie,” she said. She placed her hand on his forehead. “How is the pain?”
     “It’s terrible,” Bertie said, his irritation obvious. “Where is the doctor? And more to the point, where is that bally morphine?”
     “The doctor should arrive shortly, sir,” Jeeves said, keeping his voice even. “Would you like something to eat, sir, perhaps some tea?”
     “No. I would not like either. What I would like is to be left alone.”
     Jeeves tried again. “The nurse said a light meal should be made available, sir.”
     “Then let her eat it. I’m not hungry.”
     Mrs. Travers rose from her chair. “I shall go and unpack, Bertie. I will look in on you when the doctor arrives.”
     “Have a corking time, Aunt D,” he said, his voice suddenly weary.
      She left the room without a backward glance.
     “I will fetch you some fresh water and another ice pack, sir,” Jeeves said.
     “Don’t bother, Jeeves. Just don’t bother.” Bertie turned his face away.
     “As you wish, sir.”
     Jeeves took himself off to the kitchen, unsure for the first time in his life what course of action to take. But these were uncharted waters they were navigating, he and Bertie, and neither of them had a compass.
     Jeeves prepared an ice pack, though Bertie had said he didn’t want one, and returned to the bedroom. Bertie had his hands over his eyes once more, as if he would hide his affliction from himself and the world.
     “Sir,” Jeeves said, steeling himself against Bertie’s anger. “I have more ice for you.”
     Bertie moved his hands and allowed Jeeves to place the pack on his face. He closed one hand over Jeeves’ fingers.
     “Thank you,” he said and tightened his grip. “I’m sorry. I don’t feel well, old thing.”
     Jeeves sat next to Bertie, still holding his hand. “Sir, I cannot promise you everything will happen for the best. I would not insult your intelligence by saying such a thing. But I can promise you that I will remain in your service.”
     “Why, Jeeves?” Bertie asked, his voice now devoid of expression. “You’re a valet, the best there is. You could go anywhere, do anything. Why would you want to play nursemaid to a blind man?”
     Jeeves quirked his lip at Bertie and felt a pang of regret because his employer couldn’t see it. “Never a nursemaid, sir,” he said, attempting to keep his voice light. “Your employ has brought me joy. I expect it will continue to do so.”
     Bertie breathed deeply, apparently fighting the pain in his head. “Jeeves, what I said before stands. You didn’t sign on for this job. If you want to go, I won’t kick up a fuss. Stiff upper lip and all that.”
     Jeeves knew how much it cost Bertie to say the words, to give his valet an avenue of escape. But Jeeves knew he would never embark down a road that only promised loneliness and regret.
     “Sir, I should like to remain in your employ, if that is agreeable to you. I had entertained the hope that my situation might be made permanent.”
     “You might regret that, Jeeves.”
     “I very much doubt it, sir.”
     The door buzzer, which seemed to Jeeves to be conspiring against these quiet moments of understanding, interrupted their talk.
     “That will be the doctor, sir. I shall bring him to you directly.”
     Bertie let go of Jeeves’ hand. “All right, Jeeves. Show the blighter in.”
     But Mrs. Travers was already greeting Dr. Faber, introducing herself and demanding he do something, all at once, it seemed to Jeeves.    The doctor looked to Jeeves for assistance.
     “Madam, the doctor has examined Mr. Wooster quite thoroughly and intends to do so again today, I am certain,” Jeeves said, dreading the upcoming interview.
     “If I might see Mr. Wooster?” the doctor asked, appearing disgruntled after Mrs. Travers’ interrogation. “And perhaps the two of you should come with me. Jeeves, have you told Mrs. Travers anything yet?”
     “I thought it best to leave that to you, sir.”
     The doctor nodded and gave Mrs. Travers a stern look. “The news isn’t good, madam. I beg you now to restrain yourself in the face of it.”
     Mrs. Travers glared at him. “I am certain I can control myself, doctor. Right now I wish to throw a brick at you, but I am curbing the impulse.”
      The doctor gave her an appraising look as if he’d changed his first impression. “Your nephew can count on you, then?”
     “Of course.”
     “I will give you all the details you need after we see Mr. Wooster and after I’ve given him another injection.”
     Jeeves led the way into Bertie’s room and took up a post at his bedside. Mrs. Travers seated herself in the chair and clasped her hands in her lap. Her white knuckles betrayed her agitation, but outwardly she appeared composed.
     Bertie opened his eyes and then closed them again. “Everyone’s here, I suppose? This can’t be good. But since I’m not lying in a casket, at least I’m not dead.”
     Dr. Faber sat at the foot of the bed. “Mr. Wooster, do you remember what I told you when I came early this morning?”
     “You said I’m losing my eyesight. Please don’t tell me there’s more.”
     “I’m afraid there is, Mr. Wooster.” The doctor paused. “The drainage canals in your eyes are blocked and that is what’s causing the pain and swelling.”
     “Well, unblock and unswell them, then,” Bertie whispered. “And put some speed on.”
     “I would if I could, sir. I have brought some eyedrops with me to help alleviate some of the pain, but they will not arrest the blindness. That is now permanent.”
     “You said some of the pain, doctor,” Mrs. Travers interjected. “How much?”
     “Not enough for Mr. Wooster to carry on with day-to-day living.”
     “Can nothing else be done?” she asked, her voice steady.
     The doctor shook his head. “Again, I’m sorry. The only surgery we have for this involves piercing the irises to create drainage tubes. This would alleviate the swelling, but it would not reverse the blindness. And the danger of infection is very great.” He paused again. “Such an infection could spread to the rest of the body. In fact, it could kill him.”
     “Then what do you suggest, doctor?” Mrs. Travers asked. “We can’t simply allow him to lie here in pain.”
     Dr. Faber nodded. “Of course not. There is only one solution, and that, I’m afraid is removing the eyes.”
     Mrs. Travers rose from her chair. “Remove his eyes? That’s the only solution?”
     “I am certain, Mrs. Travers, that if you were suffering to the degree Mr. Wooster is now, you would agree with me.”
     “But I can’t see how...”
     “I’m the one who can’t see, Aunt Dahlia. Anything. Nothing at all,” Bertie covered his face with his hands. “My eyes. You can’t do this.”
      “Mr. Wooster, a decision does not have to be made today. But we cannot keep you on morphine while we wait for the many months it would take for the swelling to dissipate naturally,” the doctor said. “And I must tell that if you kept your eyes, and the swelling did go down, your eyes would shrink to less-than-normal size. And you would be as blind as you are now.
     “Mrs. Travers, I would like to discuss this with Mr. Wooster privately. If you and Jeeves...”
     “We’re leaving,” she said curtly. “And I will talk to you as well.”
      Jeeves waited for Mrs. Travers to precede him out the door and to take a chair in the sitting room.
     “I suppose we’ll have to ask him to tea,” she said, clearly wishing she could serve something stronger. Mrs. Travers looked at Jeeves. “I can’t believe this. I won’t believe this.”
     “Madam, the doctor informed me of this news after he examined Mr. Wooster very early this morning. I’m afraid it is true. I do think the doctor would offer other options if such options were available.”
     Mrs. Travers took a deep breath. “I want Bertie to come to Brinkley Court.”
     Her remark brought Jeeves up short. He knew Bertie would not want to leave London for a permanent home in the countryside even if it meant living with his favorite aunt. Surely, Jeeves thought, Bertie should make that decision for himself. He pushed aside his doubts and attempted to distract Mrs. Travers from this line of thinking.
     “I am sure the doctor will advise the best course of action, madam. Shall I prepare tea in the meantime?”
     “By all means, Jeeves. And when that dratted man’s gone, we’ll have to make up a battle plan.”
      “I am more than willing to look after Mr. Wooster, madam,” Jeeves said.
     “Of course, Jeeves, but even you have to sleep sometime,” she said, her manner a trifle impatient. “I would like very much for you to retire after dinner. I will stay up with Bertie until about four o’clock in the morning. Will that suffice, do you think?”
      “Madam, that will make a very long day for you. Might I suggest a nap after tea, until perhaps the dinner hour?”
     “Agreed, Jeeves.”
     The doctor entered the sitting room and Jeeves excused himself to get the tea. He took longer than usual in his preparations to give the doctor time to explain everything to Mrs. Travers. She would need a few moments to compose herself after hearing more about her nephew’s prognosis and the surgery that now appeared to be necessary.
     He carried in the tray and placed it on the coffee table.
     “Jeeves, if you will have a seat, we can discuss arrangements for Mr. Wooster,” the doctor said.
     “If you have no objection, doctor, I should like to remain standing,” Jeeves said. Sitting with the doctor in the middle of the night was an exception to Jeeves’ code of conduct. However, being seated with Mrs. Travers was entirely another situation.
     “Suit yourself,” the doctor said. “Mrs. Travers here wants you in on this, Jeeves.”
     “Very good, sir.”
     Dr. Faber accepted a cup of tea and leaned back in his chair. “To begin,” he said, “I would like you both to encourage him to have the surgery. I know this is difficult, more than difficult, really. But there is no other viable option. Since you were called in Mrs. Travers, I’m going to assume he has no parents with whom he can consult.”
     “They died years ago,” she said.
     “Then you must be the one to advise him. There is no way he can deal with the pain for months. And in the end, the result is the same. He is, for all intents and purposes, blind. Removing his eyes will get him back on his feet much faster. He might also wish to obtain glass eyes for the sake of appearances, but that can be decided later.”
     Mrs. Travers looked at Jeeves. “What do you think, Jeeves?”
     “Madam, it is not my place to say.”
     “Pish,” she said. “I’m asking for your opinion.”
     Jeeves inclined his head. “Then I would advise Mr. Wooster to have the surgery.”
     Mrs. Travers examined her folded hands and then took a deep breath. When she looked up, Jeeves could see the tears in her eyes.
     “We will do as you suggest, doctor. But I have to tell you that I don’t like it.”
     “I can’t see anyone liking this, Mrs. Travers,” he answered in a crisp tone. “To continue. Your nephew,” he said, speaking directly to Mrs. Travers, “is an easygoing sort, is he not?”
     She nodded. “He has always been a cheerful young blister.”
     “Then expect that to change. No person who goes from viewing the world with rose-colored glasses to viewing nothing at all is going to take that sitting down. He’s going to be angry and he’ll take that out on his nearest and dearest. He might sulk and say nothing for hours at a time. You’ll have to excuse him for that. He also might turn to drink. I wouldn’t advise removing all alcohol from the house; that’s treating him like a child. Allow him the pleasures he’s always enjoyed and then he might not use that as a crutch. He might take the other extreme and become docile, simply allowing everyone to order his life. That is to be avoided as well.”
     Mrs. Travers put down her cup and saucer. “I should like Bertie and Jeeves to move to my home as soon as Bertie is able to travel.”
     Dr. Faber shook his head. “A kind offer made with the best of intentions, I’m sure, but removing him from familiar surroundings would make him feel as if he had no control over his life. And anyway,” he said as if that concluded the matter. “Jeeves has said he intends to stay with Mr. Wooster.”
     Mrs. Travers turned to Jeeves. “Is this true?’
     “It is, madam.”
     “But for how long? Surely you understand how different your lives will be.”
     Jeeves nodded. “Nevertheless, I should still like to remain in Mr. Wooster’s service.”
     She smiled. “Thank you, Jeeves.”
     The doctor coughed. “About his personal life. Is there a girl? Someone special? Was he set to marry?”
     Mrs. Travers waved a hand. “He’s been engaged dozens of times, and none of them amounted to anything.”
     Jeeves kept his own counsel. He himself had engineered the end of most of those engagements at Bertie’s behest.
    “You’re going to have to watch things, Mrs. Travers,” he said. “Mr. Wooster is going to be susceptible to any young woman who expresses an interest in him. While there is that rare woman who can look past this and treat him normally, she’ll be hard to find.”
     “What are you saying, doctor?” Mrs. Travers said in an affronted tone.
     “Be on the lookout for martyrs and opportunists. A martyr will never let him forget how much she’s given up to marry him. An opportunist will have him dead in five years and collect on his estate.”
     “I don’t like the sound of that,” Mrs. Travers said. “I can’t believe there is no one out there for my nephew, even now.”
     Dr. Faber drank the last of his tea and regarded Mrs. Travers. “I take it Mr. Wooster is a well-heeled young man?” When neither responded, he continued. “That’s my answer, then. A young woman of less-than-sound scruples would find your nephew easy pickings.”
     Jeeves refilled their cups in the ensuing silence and then offered to look in on Bertie.
     “I’ll be leaving myself, Jeeves,” Dr. Faber said, then gulped his tea and got to his feet. “I’ll send the nurse round this evening. Try to get him to eat something, a meal he can easily handle. And if his head isn’t too bad, get him walking round his room. The sooner he gets used to the lay of things, the better. Jeeves, I’ve left the eyedrops on his bedside table. Use them as necessary for the pain.”
     “Of course, sir.”
     “Jeeves,” Mrs. Travers said as soon as the doctor left the flat. “I do think Bertie would be better off at Brinkley Court. There are more people there to help him. You can’t do it alone. You’ll wear yourself out.”
     “He will not be abed much longer, madam, and the workload will lessen,” Jeeves said. “Forgive me, madam, but I wonder if Mr. Wooster could be allowed to make that decision after his surgery.”
     “I suppose you’re right, Jeeves.” She stood. “I shall have that nap you suggested and take over after dinner.”
     “Very good, madam.”

  ♥ Part 2
Bonnie: bertie_cute_sepiasoul_bonnie on May 12th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)

T_T You made me cry!! But it's so good I'm glad I don't have to wait for the other parts!
storyfan: blue eyesstoryfan on May 17th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC)
If I hadn't posted everything at once, I would have been agonizing about each section for days.
Bonnie: hepburnsoul_bonnie on May 17th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)

Will happen with the fic I'm working on with the moment. Cuz I'm not really industrious if that's the word I want. -.-
lady529: Jeeves ?!?lady529 on May 12th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Hm. Angst. Angsty angst at that. Good angsty angst, but aw..

The Lady 529
storyfan: dapper jeevesstoryfan on May 17th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
I think I broke the angst meter with this one.
lady529: Jeeves prettylady529 on May 18th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
For Wodehousian fic, yes you did. V. good fic though <3

The Lady 529
Nonsensical Whatnotterist: JW - Jeeves-cryrandom_nexus on May 12th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
*sobbing in my fruitcup* *click click click dammit*
Dash it all but this is good.
*HONK!* *snurfle* *click*

EDIT: Can't spell with all the waterworks! ;_;

Edited at 2009-05-12 07:33 pm (UTC)
storyfan: dapper bertiestoryfan on May 17th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
I should have offered you a virtual hankie.
Mercythirstyrobot on May 12th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC)
He would never again see the New York skyline from the deck of an ocean liner, the excitement of a rugby match or the faces of his lifelong friends. There would be no light, no gaiety, no staring at Jeeves as if he were actually the miracle worker Bertie professed him to be.

Break my heart why don't you!

In a good way, I mean. *soldiers on hoping for a brighter horizon*
storyfan: bertie hidingstoryfan on May 17th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
You're a good soldier. I'm glad you liked those lines.
I say! I may be stupid, but I'm not clever!: The Constant Gardenermxdp on May 12th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
My word!
I mean, I love any story you write, and I have a thing for sad stories, but... *sob*

PS: Finished my paper today. A good long Jooster fic is possibly the best reward ever! :D
storyfan: bertie smokingstoryfan on May 17th, 2009 04:23 am (UTC)
Finishing a paper is a huge relief. Glad you consider the story a reward.
lady_carfax on December 21st, 2009 07:42 pm (UTC)
OMG I think you broke me.

I actually lost my sight temporarily, and so far Bertie is responding perfectly realistically. This has brought back so many memories, it's actually quite therapeutic.

*tootles off to P2*