REPOST--Everything I Do, I Do For You
Love, Fever Style
I love love. I’ve never been much into romance books. Well, except the smutty kind I used to sneak from my mom’s room; but that was research. Really. In literature though, my tastes have usually turned more toward adventure, intrigue, personal growth. When I started my U/F
The Fever series was the fifth U/F series I read, and I devoured it the first time, at a clip of one book per day, then immediately reread every book. I was pleased that there was not a romance, per se, but that the story was front-and-center. In fact, the first time through, I didn’t realize there was a love story, until very near the end. That was mostly because Mac kept telling me there wasn’t one. But each time I reread Fever, the love story is clearer and clearer to me. Even if Pink Mac still doesn’t want to admit it.
The love that developed between Mac and Barrons was surprising and unconventional, but it was staggering in its depth, its intensity, its emotion. When Karen Moning explained her process in creating the Fever world, she talked about making a conscious decision to have her main couple never say “I love you”:
In the vein of showing, not telling, I want my characters to love each other—but never tell each other that. I will show it in their actions, in the choices they make. Words are easy; lies as simple as parting your lips and breathing.
I LOVE that! It is so easy to say the words, and they mean nothing. But showing one’s love is the challenge. And Mac and Barrons rise to the challenge, again and again.
Come with me on a journey through the Fever series, as I explore this amazing, beautiful, often frustrating love story…
In the beginning…
The major theme in Barrons’s character is that actions speak, words are flimsy, easily manipulated. The first time through Fever, it’s easy to read Mac’s reactions to his words and to accept her interpretations as fact, but upon subsequent readings, or if you are savvy enough to catch the truth the first time, it’s easy to see that Barrons began falling for her in Darkfever, and was completely gone by the end of Faefever.
Who can say exactly when association turns to affection, when affection turns to love? In Darkfever, Barrons had three actions that prove, to me, his association with Mac was turning into something more.
First, when Mac saw the Gray Man for the first time, it was the first time she saw a Fae kill a human. She immediately went to Barrons Books and Baubles, because she knew that Barrons was the only one who could help her. He wasn’t there when she arrived, so Fiona sent her to the restroom to pull herself together. When Mac stepped out of the restroom she, literally, ran into the wall that is Jericho Barrons. She screamed and wailed on him, punching him while he glared at her. And he let her. If you know Barrons, you know that this is not typical Barrons behavior. This was the fourth time that Mac had met Barrons, so I’m not claiming this was love. Yet. But already, he was behaving differently than he would with anyone else.
Interestingly, the second action also involved the Gray Man. Barrons decided that Mac needed to learn to kill Fae and took her out hunting. They came across the Gray Man in the process of killing his latest victim but had to let him finish, rather than risk exposing them all to the nearby humans. When the Gray Man finished with the woman and left, they made to follow him, and Mac began to turn to see the woman who the Gray Man had killed. Barrons wouldn't let her look back, saying, “the dead ones stick in your memory. Just go kill the fuck that did it.” If all Barrons wanted from Mac was a well-trained weapon, he would have let her, no encouraged her, to look back so that she could develop immunity to the violence. But already, he couldn't do that.
But the part of Darkfever that put most Wenches firmly on the side of one Jericho Z. Barrons was at the end, after he rescued her from Mallucé, the Lord Master, and her own brave stupidity. Barrons rushed Mac back to the bookstore, patched her up, and kept her safe (I love that in this part she thinks to herself that she trusts him to keep her safe. That changes for her, which is so frustrating, and I finally understand where she lost her trust. But more on that later…) while she recovered. After she was healed enough to be conscious, Barrons helped Mac paint her nails. Such a simple act, but one Barrons clearly would not do for any other person on the planet. If Mac were simply his OOP detector, there is no way he would do that for her. He was so the smitten kitten. Even if neither of them realized it yet.
From association to affection…
As we moved into Bloodfever and Faefever, we saw Barrons’s feelings grow (again, even though Mac refused to see it and refused to accept her own feelings!) and his actions continued to speak the words he could not. I’ve encountered more than one person who claimed that Barrons was abusive, cruel, cold, or perhaps even evil. I would argue that if you believe that, you’ve missed the point. Barrons had a good idea about what kind of horror Mac was about to face and knew she was going to need to grow up in a hurry. He couldn't be gentle if he was going to ensure her survival. And he was!
On the Shadowsong CD (the Shadowfever soundtrack) there is a song called Just One Time with a line that says, “searching for one shred of humanity just to give me the strength I need to let you bleed.” That gets me every time, because we don’t know what Barrons’s thoughts or motivations truly were, except when Mac was in his head, but I like to think it had to be excruciating for him to watch her dealing with her new world, and even teaching her harsh lessons himself. Sometimes the hardest thing in the short term is the best thing for the long term. Barrons knew that.
While understanding that Barrons’s often harsh treatment of Mac was difficult for him with his growing feelings, I saw that there were, again, three actions Barrons took in Bloodfever that demonstrate, perfectly, his growing feelings for Mac.
First is a simple one, but it speaks volumes. When Barrons took Mac to the cemetery to search it for OOPs, Mac was feeling melancholy about the turn her life had taken and disturbed by the spectre following her. To cheer her up, Barrons offered the keys to his Viper and let her drive home, to the bookstore. I just can’t imagine Barrons letting many people drive his cars. And certainly not for the express purpose of cheering them up. He would only do that if he actually cared how that person felt.
Secondly is the trip to Wales to try and steal the amulet from the old man who won it at the auction. There were bodies strewn throughout the mansion, and Mac had to search every room to be sure the amulet was actually gone. Barrons went into every room ahead of Mac and either covered the bodies, or moved them so that she didn't have to deal with the carnage. When we know what Barrons is, we understand the toll that action took on him, although at first glance we don’t know what it means when Mac noted that he looked different, that there is no way the person behind those eyes was human. But he went in and made the search easier for her, regardless of the impact on himself. These are not the actions of an employer toward his employee. If all he wanted was her cooperation he could have ordered her to do it, or he could have Voiced her. But he didn't. He made the circumstances easier to bear. Again.
The most important indicator of Barrons’s feelings in Bloodfever was his reaction to finding her in The Burren, on the brink of death. Simply put, he was devastated. He called her Mac. He apologized. He frantically tried to figure out how to fix her. Mac was stunned to realize that she meant something to him, admitted to herself that he meant something to her. He saved her life again, proving that he is the one who will never let her die.
When I think about how long it took for these two fools to get together, it has always frustrated me that Mac didn't trust Barrons and that he refused to tell her the things she needed to hear. I accepted his premise that words are easy, that she needed to see him. But it still frustrated me that she refused to trust him. The last time I reread, I looked for the trust and was surprised by Mac’s trust of him, initially, after the attack at LaRuhe and in The Burren. I kept wondering when she stopped trusting him, and found it in Faefever. When he walked out of the Silver in his office carrying the young woman’s body, then refused to tell Mac why the woman was dead, why he was carrying her, that’s when she stopped trusting him implicitly. She began doubting all of his motives, and their already tempestuous relationship became even more strained.
I also noticed, on my latest reread, that Barrons encouraged Mac’s belief that she was simply a tool in his Sinsar Dubh-finding arsenal. That was another of my frustrations with Mac—she kept saying he just needed her OOP-detecting skills. I was surprised to find that Barrons actually said it, too, but he did. Twice. He was fighting his attraction to her, as hard as she was fighting hers to him, and by giving her reasons to doubt him, he kept the walls between them firmly in place.
Barrons’s jealousy was also a good indicator of his growing feelings for Mac. After she spent the afternoon in Cancun with V’lane, Barrons walked in, took one look at tanned, polished Mac, and Voiced her, brutally, into telling him everything. At the beginning she thought that she sensed violence in the room, and then after he asked if she had ever fucked V’lane, and she assured him she hadn't, the violence abated. When she told him she was meeting Christian, he seethed again. Barrons was clearly jealous and frustrated with Mac, and when she told him she wasn't fucking V’lane, Barrons said he only asked because he needed to know if she was Pri-ya. Right.
Although Barrons kept giving Mac the distance she needed, there were more actions in Fafever that show how much he cared: following her to the Abbey to be sure she didn't need help, fulfilling her needs and wants at the bookstore, trying to keep her safe on Samhain, when they knew big shit was about to go down. But I can’t gloss over the infamous cake scene.
Barrons’s birthday was tough to read. I remember feeling so bad for Mac, and crying through that scene the first two or three times I read it. How could he do that to her? Didn't he realize that she was just trying to be nice, to celebrate him and their "friendship"? It took me several times to figure out what happened in that scene, and I think I finally got it. First of all, he had a battle going on with his beast. “I sensed violence in the room a split second before it erupted. In retrospect, I think he thought he had it caged, and was nearly as surprised as I.” I believe the beast was pissed off at her attempt to humanize him and also because she had gotten under his skin. But the man who longed for connection and who had already fallen for this completely inappropriate woman was more touched than he wanted to be. Barrons had a shockingly human reaction to his very human feelings; he lashed out when he couldn't control his roiling emotions. This was the last time Mac saw Barrons before he rescued her from the Abbey.
There was purity in that basement
The beginning of Dreamfever completely undoes me. Mac lost herself, and had no idea what was happening, so I didn’t the first time or two either, but now that I know what I’m looking for I am awed, completely awed, by Barrons’s actions. From when we first saw him at the Abbey, through Mac walking out, whole and strong, on her own two feet, it is amazing, beautiful, and heart-wrenching. So much so that it deserves its own section when talking about Mac & Barrons & Love.
Even before we read Mac’s thoughts again we were made aware of Barrons’s feelings, this time through Dani’s eyes. It often takes seeing things through another person’s eyes to really see the truth. Mac didn’t see Barrons until Shadowfever, but Dani did. When the Nine came to rescue Mac from the Abbey, Rowena was being her usual bitch self, and Dani thought, “If looks could kill! Someday somebody’s gonna look at somebody about me like that.” He called her “Mac” when he spoke about her to Dani, which is huge for Barrons. Then Dani asked Barrons to promise not to hurt Rowena, to which Barrons replied “I’ll decide when I see Mac.” If he had known what Rowena did to Mac, both Ro and Dani would have wished Barons had simply killed her.
When we read Mac’s thoughts again, we were all rendered speechless by Barrons’s actions. As soon as Mac regained herself, she was livid because she thought that Barrons had not bared himself in that basement the way she had been forcibly bared. She was so wrong! His feelings were plain, if she was looking at his actions! So let’s look at his actions (and a few of his words) ourselves:
In that conversation at the Abbey he gave her the platitude she was looking for, the lie she hid behind for months when it came to their complicated relationship: he only brought her back, he only took care of her, so that he could use her skills, not because he cared about her. They continued on, basically the way they had been before Mac was Pri-ya (although there was the addition of Barrons’s near-constant reminders of the time Mac was Pri-ya. He was not about to let her forget what they meant to each other in that basement!) through another book and a half.
How much longer will you dissemble?
I want the woman I think you are. But the longer you dissemble, the more I think I made a mistake. Saw things in you that weren’t there…There was purity in that basement. That’s the way I live. There was a time I thought you did, too…Some things are sacred. Until you act like they’re not. Then you lose them.
I should have made love to this man. I was always afraid to be tender. I’m bemused by my own idiocy. He flinches. “Don’t you think for a fucking minute you can put all that in your eyes, then die. That’s bullshit. I’m not doing this again.”
“I watched you die. I need to fuck you, Mac.”
“Are you going to talk me to death or fuck me, Jericho Barrons?” “Say it again. The last part.”
“They’ll try to kill you.” “Good thing I’m hard to kill.” Only one thing concerned me. “Will you?” “Never. I’m the one who will always watch over you. Always be there to fuck you back to your senses when you need it, the one who will never let you die.”
“You’re the wild card, Mac. I’ve thought that since the beginning. This thing thinks you’re epic. So do I.”
“You’re Mac and I’m Jericho. And nothing else matters. Never will. You exist in a place that is beyond all rules for me. Do you understand that?” I do. Jericho Barrons just told me he loves me.
“That’s it. Fate’s a fickle whore. We’re not going. Take your clothes off and get back in my bed.”
“Somebody’d made me a fighter. With him by my side there was nothing I couldn’t do.”
“I knew it was a lie the moment you said it.” I searched his eyes. “But you looked happy! You smiled. I saw things in your eyes!” “I was happy. I knew why you’d lied.” His dark gaze was ancient, inhuman, and uncharacteristically gentle. “Because you love me.”
But through it all they found their way to each other. Their pairing is challenging, and I have no doubt their HEA will be filled with fighting, sarcasm, and angst. But it will also be filled with passion, respect, and joy. And in the end, what could be more perfect?