Hello, all! It's been a long time since I've done much writing, and even longer since I've actually posted anything, so this was really nice to write. That being said, this is my first Forever fanfiction. Fell in love at the first episode, but I haven't had the time, or even the inclination, really, to do much writing. Shame, because I love it so. Anyway, here goes! I would very much appreciate your feedback, as always. If reviews are food, criticism is healthy food. I need it. I'm somewhat worried about characterization of Henry, he's surprisingly difficult. There will be historical notes at the bottom.
Disclaimer:I do NOT own ABC's ForeverNOR do I ever claim the contrary. I make NO money off of the FREE-TO-READ, online publication of this FANwork.
Henry and the Somers Affair
A Forever fanfiction
May 19th, 1842
"I hate him."
Henry frowned, thinking to his own father. "You don't, Spencer. You think you do, but trust me when I say you don't."
"What the hell would you know of it?" Spencer said, voice reproachful, shoulders raising to his ears, "Your father's not the Secretary of War."
Henry sighed, said, "No, he was not. But I thought I hated him for a long time."
Philip sneered. "And what? You realized how much you loved him on his death bed, or something?"
"I never spoke to him again, actually, and was happy when I learned of his death," Henry said, deciding that half-truth was probably the best course of action. Of course, saying that his father was a legitimate slave trader was out of the question, it was about fifteen years too late for that, but... "He smuggled slaves into the Americas and caused the misery of hundreds. I had every reason to hate him."
Spencer looked at him in mild shock. Henry had forgotten that he'd told the boy of his anti-slavery tendencies.
"Right," Spencer said, shaking his head. "I keep forgetting that you're one of them abolitionists."
Henry snorted. He wished that he was brave enough for that. "Not quite. I don't do anything about it."
"Well, you want to. Close enough."
Henry decided to take that as a compliment, but shook his head. The conversation was heading into dangerous grounds. "I have digressed rather far from the original point, I'm afraid. What has your father done this time, Mr. Spencer?"
Spencer sent Henry a miffed look. "I keep telling you to call me Phillip. Mr. Spencer is my ass of a father."
"Not the point, Phillip."
Phillip scowled, nodded, spit, said, "Fine, Doctor. He's putting me on a ship next year."
Henry's eyes shot into his hair. "You're kidding me!" he said.
"That's what I said." There was a long pause. Henry wasn't quite sure what to say.
"Is this necessarily a bad thing?" Henry asked. It was a bit of a risky venture, asking something like that. Phillip had rather strong opinions on things like the Navy.
"It's awful," Phillip said without missing a beat. To his credit, his tone didn't gain any heat, either. Henry rubbed his brow, wondering why he'd ever agreed to tutor the boy. If his condition wasn't reason enough, Phillip provided all the proof he needed that child rearing wasn't something he should ever, ever do.
"At least you won't be near him, then," Henry said. "The space and time apart might help soothe relations a bit. Besides, you'll be learning a useful trade."
"Seamanship? A useful trade?"
Henry sent Phillip a withering look. "Get back to your Greek conjugation."
Phillip smirked, acquiesced.
September 13th, 1842
"Nice to see you again, Mr. Spencer," Henry said, shaking the man's hand firmly. It wasn't every day you saw the Secretary of War. Even if you were his son's tutor. Even if you were his son.
"Likewise, Dr. Morgan! Thank you for coming to see my son off." Spencer smiled broadly, arms spreading widely.
"Well, someone had to be here for him," Henry said. He couldn't resist making the verbal backhand. "His head may be permanently in the clouds, but he is a good student." Spencer's broad smile slipped slightly, and Henry smiled politely and excused himself. He would rather talk to Phillip than waste time with political bluster.
It didn't take long to find Phillip. He was clutching the handle of his small valise, knuckles white and thrown into sharp relief. The boy was eying the ship warily.
"Good luck, Midshipman."
Phillip jumped about a foot. "Damn it, Morgan! Stop doing that," he said.
Henry smiled slightly. "Your observational skills are as poor as ever, I see."
Phillip scowled, but it was clearly an effort to do so. The corners of his mouth kept tugging upwards and finally he gave into an abashed grin. "I guess I'll need to work on that then."
"Midshipmen are technically officers," Henry reminded. "You must be ever vigilant, lest your subordinates rise up in mutiny."
Phillip laughed, then stopped, staring at Henry blankly for a moment. The expression was fleeting, so fleeting that Henry might have imagined it. He dismissed it as he said his goodbyes.
"You'll be almost nineteen when you come back," Henry said. "You've become a man." Unsure how to continue, he took a breath. Then, "Our lessons have come to end."
Spencer nodded, running a hand through his hair with the slight awkwardness that accompanies regret. "I will miss them," he said. "I learned more from you than I have from any of my other teachers combined."
Henry smiled at that. "Thank you, Phillip. I'm glad I was of use to you."
Phillip looked at Henry incredulously for a moment before putting down his valise and hugging him. It took a moment for Henry to wrap his arms around the boy, shocked as he was, but he did. And God, was he glad.
On December 10th, Henry waited at the dock for his student, Mrs. Spencer by his side. John Spencer was attending to business in Washington, and Phillip's mother insisted that Henry accompany her in her husband's place. They stood in companionable silence as the little brig docked, excitement practically crackling in both of them.
They were not expecting what they found.
"Dead?" Mrs. Spencer said, voice breaking high, lip trembling.
"Dead," the lieutenant said. "Hanged." He wasn't a particularly young man, nor a particularly old one, and he quailed under Mrs. Spencer's pleading gaze.
"Oh what charges?" Henry asked. "Why?"
"Dr. Morgan, Lieutenant."
"Did they have... proof?" Mrs. Spencer asked, finding a will that Henry simply couldn't.
"Papers written in Greek, translated by Midshipman James Wales, also, witness accounts of threats against the same boy.
"Who else died?" Henry asked, eyes closing.
"Boatswain's mate Samuel Cromwell and Elisha Small, rated able." The Lieutenant gathered his strength, said, "We had to. They were a danger to the ship."
Mrs. Spencer looked just about ready to hit the man, and Henry would not have held her back. She was saved, however, from assault charges and hysteria treatment when a boy hurdled down the gangplank. "They were innocent! God! I've killed them!" He must have recognized Mrs. Spencer, for he collapsed at the hem of her dress, clutching at it. "I've killed them Oh, God! God!"
"Mr. Wales!" The Lieutenant dragged the boy to his feet, but that didn't stop the boy's words.
"Phillip, he threatened me. I thought he was joking, but I took it to the purser just in case," he said, eye's boring into Mrs. Spencer's. "I had to. I was scared. But then they found the papers. Greek. I translated them."
Henry's breath caught in his throat and he choked on his own spit. No. Not Greek. Not the language he had taught the boy. His eyes closed involuntarily again. He opened them, grabbed the boy's shoulders.
"Tell me, did he die with honor? Did he?"
The Midshipman nodded, his composure slightly regained. He grasped Henry's arms for stability. He was no longer hyperventilating, but fresh tears still made tracks in the grime on his face. "He admitted to it. Said he deserved to die. Went down insisting that Small and Cromwell were innocent, though."
Now Henry himself was crying, and Mrs. Spencer's shock was too profound for her to do anything but stare. The tears would come later for her, but at this moment, she was unable to release them.
Henry woke with a start, a sixteen year old Abraham standing above him. "What the hell, Dad?"
Henry's breathing slowed to a healthy pace. "Promise me you'll never join the Navy," he said. Abe's brows knit together.
"What? Dad, what are you talking about?"
"Promise me, Abraham. Promise me."
Abe nodded, removing his hand from his father's arm to run it through his hair. "I promise, Dad."
Henry heaved a sigh of relief and relaxed back into his pillows. He knew that he'd have to tell his son one day what his many nightmares entailed, but tonight was not the night. There was no need for Abraham to know that he'd been alive during and closely acquainted with those involved in the Somer's Affair of 1842. Definitely not necessary.
Word Count: 1603
Word for the Wise: Boatswain is pronounced Bo'sun. Often, one will see it spelled that way, too.
Historical note: Midshipman Phillip Spencer, ABS Elisha Small, and Boatswain's mate Samuel Cromwell hanged on December 1st, 1842. This is the only known mutiny to ever happen in the United States Navy and is the catalyst that inspired the foundation of our Naval School. Let's brainwash the boys before we put them on a ship!
They died without a full trial, or due process, a mere thirteen days away from harbor, where a proper court martial could have awaited them.
Keep in mind, however, that the USS Somers was a small ship, with no real brig. Food stores were running low, and the crew was getting antsy. Commander McKenzie saw that keeping the three alive could have inspired the rest of a the crew to mutiny – a fight he could not have won.
On the 25th of November, Spencer threatened fellow Midshipman James W. Wales, the purser's steward. James told the purser of the events, Spencer was searched and papers written in Greek were found. Mr. Wales translated them and saw that the document was a list of the crew labeled by member willingness to mutiny.
I'm still not entirely sure why Small and Cromwell were grabbed. In the end, Spencer admitted that he deserved to die for his crimes but maintained that the two older men were innocent and had nothing to do with his machinations. All evidence suggests that Spencer was telling the truth about that.
Now for the pathetic begging. Reviews would definitely be appreciated! I want your thoughts so that I can improve!
Thank you for taking the time to read. Have a nice day!