Notes: Wrote this during the past weekend in Luxor, while mentally concocting plans for Rick/Evie novellas, one of which I'm actually starting. Anyway, this an Alex perspective of sorts, with Jonathan as back-up and oodles of Rick/Evie hints. Fun all around (and I want to write a companion piece, R/E perspective, but…).

Set: After TMR, by two months - not really important, but I like to know. ;D Also, this depends on a timeline I've worked out for my own benefit, due to a host of continuity errors relating to the dates presented in the second movie (details? WolfHowlN2@aol.com - *laughs*). Basically this means I shifted TMR from 1933 to 1935 for the benefit of this fic. *rubs head sheepishly* Sorry?

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Family

(1935)

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The storm had broken near eight, a tumultuous explosion of powerful rain and skeletal lightning that speared the sky with natural wrath. It had promised to come through hours of half-present, vain sunlight that kept hope in place, a way to delay fears the infamous thunderstorms of London would shudder into being. When finally the first tentative silver pearls struck the manor's sleek windows, the wind beginning to whisper dangerously, his mum and dad had been gone three hours, hands clasped together inconspicuously but what seemed eternally; they were still trying to account, between themselves, the minutes their souls had been separated by her temporary death. He had gone to kill for her; she had returned for him and the other men who needed her: Jonathan, for years spent with only each other to dry tears and speak cheerily; Alex, for being the son she cuddled with when his nightmares drew frighteningly close; Ardeth, for becoming a second brother and sharing a will to die for her family; and even Izzy, who Alex had learned was the means of their finding him.

Alex knew, though, with all the philosophical certainty he was ordained as a child, it was somehow his father that had called her back. He remembered, and recalled too easily, the fear of his father crying, of seeing the way his tall frame tried to curl over her, as if doing otherwise would be to surrender her. The only romantic love their son had seen was his parents and their playful, absolute devotion to one another, but in the same token a bond he had grown with and always seen as indestructible. To see her dying, so surprisingly clean of blood - Uncle Jon trembled, the anguish of losing one loved dearly throughout him - was heresy to his faith, but it was his father's plea - "come back, Evie," broken of heart - that gave him the first idea. Rick needed Evie and - it only made sense - Evie needed Rick. When Alex was hungry, he found food; when thirsty, water; when tired, bed. Need, he surmised, would draw them together, and the Book of the Dead was only the means of getting there.

So he did not begrudge them their walks and drives and - though he still found them utterly nasty - kissing moments, and he supposed if he thought about it long enough, he would understand why. At the moment, though, he and Uncle Jon - both exceptionally poor checkers players and, they were quickly discovering, chess players - were trying to pretend they were *not* scared by the lightning and were *quite* capable of being on their own. Mum, Alex remembered, hadn't seemed too happy about leaving her brother and son alone in the house, in spite of Jonathan's thirty plus years and that Alex had not meant to break the priceless Anubis statuette the last time they were to their own devices.

In entirety, then, life for the O'Connells and sole Carnahan was relatively close to normal.

"Do you mean to say this entire," Jonathan, tone disbelieving, gestured broadly at the haphazard display of chess pieces, "endeavor was pointless?" He glanced in dismay at his rook, maneuvered halfway across the board and forlornly alone. "Oh, that's horrible," he muttered. "I wasted all those whatever you call 'ems," Alex glanced at the captured pawns, "and then it turns out I did it all for naught. I say, that's almost as bad as being clocked in a prison. Ask your father," he added, cutting off the question already forming behind Alex's crafty eyes.

Deciding that was all the answer he was going to get out, Alex nodded sagely at the chessboard. "Well, I don't think you've got any clue what you're doing," he reasoned and Jonathan agreed glumly, scratching at his whiskerless chin, "and I know I don't know what I'm doing, so then we're both lost. Might as well call truce and stop." He adopted his best grown-up face, the one several women seemed to think adorable enough to warrant one of those annoying cheek pinches, and he did his level best to appear studious; inside, he was feeling as though bits of his innards were tied in awkward knots.

The storm was growing perpetually stronger as the thick trees rattled sinister promise outside, and a child's fear wondered why his parents were not home yet. Lightning had been present, too, when they had taken Mum, and that had proved more frightening to him than being abducted himself. A soft, barely heard sliver of thunder murmured through the manor walls, following quietly at the heels of a ghostly flickering blue lighting the drapes in a moment's span. He pretended to ignore Uncle Jon's reminiscent shiver, trusting the man to feign obliviousness of Alex's own chilled shudder. Storms had welcomed the beginning of a new, cold darkness, one that took his mother twice and stole him from his family, had brought something old and needy into existence in his dad. It was a comfort to know Uncle Jon felt similar fears - not a relief, but a comfort.

Jonathan tapped his woeful rook on the black square it occupied, glancing nervously at the window before he coughed and with false bravado asked, "You wouldn't happen to have any cards, then; would you? I fancy a game of canasta, myself. Do you think you're up for it, pal?" He smiled quirkily at his nephew, who granted him the infamous O'Connell eyebrow arch, an exaggeratedly sarcastic gesture on par with 'oh really' and '*what* are you babbling about?' Jonathan had found, over the years of knowing Rick and influencing Alex's continuing childhood, he had no lost love for that flip of an eyebrow.

"First, Uncle Jon, I haven't got any cards," Alex said in a half-serious, half-teasing voice, "and second, Mum says Dad'll have to shoot you if you even think of betting again. He did make that rule saying it isn't right to trick me out of my 'lowance every time we play." Alex looked on at his uncle smugly, pleased with himself and his rationale.

"I only beat you once," Jonathan protested, sagging back in his polished, pleasantly upholstered chair and knocking the rook over with his finger. "Besides, I'm the one losing his allowance all over the place." He gave his nephew a look of mixed disgust and pride, casting his legs out lazily before him in the clammy air within the walls, and the boy smiled guilelessly. "If I ever see anyone can play poker like you," he chuckled in a wryly awed manner, "I'll - why, I'll eat my hat and coattails, too." He bobbed his head decisively and straightened his back, leaning over the board to convey the solemnity of his chosen vow.

"You haven't got any coattails," Alex pointed out, his eyebrow still raised. "Mum taught me how to play," he added, staring at his small, still partly chubby hands, near his thumbs where youth had yet to bleed into adolescence. "Dad's never been any good at cards; he does all right most of the time, but he likes crosswords and boxing more, I think. Things he can deal with. But I'm not calling him stupid!" Alex looked to his uncle anxiously and having grown up with the friendly animosity the two men shared, was slightly surprised to receive a rare grave agreement.

"O'Connell's not a foolish man by far, not like me," he shook his head with a sheepish grin. "Now, see, your da, he's not smart like Evie is: she learns from books and stories, likes to have facts and proof to use, but she has more - more faith in strange things, is what it is. Rick, he's a bit more cynical, or he was, and he knows things right off the bat as the Americans say, could always judge your character in a wink." He grimaced, remembering an old memory, and a muscle in his cheek twitched with reminiscing phantom pain.

Alex nodded, once, in appreciation of his uncle's speech, and after a moment of silence but for the rain, he continued, eyes squinting as he dredged up the memories. "She wanted me to have something I could do when I had to stay in camp and tried solitaire, which is ab-so-lute-ly mind-numbing. I was bored out of my head!" Old indignation surfaced in the seven-year old's face, and Jonathan snorted, clearly recalling his own encounters with the demon of solitaire, maybe from the mystic days before Mum had met Dad. "So she taught me poker and gin rummy and canasta, which Dad said were only good if you could win the pants off some bloke's ass." He immediately cringed, expecting mother or father to descend on his being with reprimands and painfully disappointed looks exaggerated for effect; fortunately, he only had Jonathan. "So Dad showed me how to glare people down, just like he can, and," his pale granite gaze, blue flecked with grey like his father's, switched to the slant-eyed man, "I learned how to cheat watching you, Uncle Jon."

"Learned from the best, I suppose," spoke Jonathan cheerfully, smiling winningly as he began to replace pieces on the board. "Haven't a scruple - well, disregarding your parents, of course." He touched his nose gingerly. ""Your da damn near broke my bloody nose, once, for cheating. Oh," he tacked on, noting Alex's impressed look, "he was rather drunk at the time and I myself've always liked a bit of whiskey, so we neither had much in the way of gentlemanly action. Next time we met he almost broke my jaw, but then he met Evie, thank God for little sisters." Jonathan shuddered at the grim spectre of what Rick - Alex tried to imagine his father being willing to hit his wife's brother and failed, having only seen his father attacked labeled bad guys; so far as he knew, Uncle Jon was relegated to good guy - might have done were it not for pretty librarians and their razor tempers being around to distract him.

Alex reminded himself to ask what the details of his parents meeting were, but Jonathan continued blithely, nearly accusing in a mild tone, "However the case may be, I'm glad you called quits. You were obviously cheating; glad to see the Christian guilt finally got you sense enough to stop."

The younger of the two stared, disbelieving, at his uncle before crying, insulted, "I was *not* cheating!"

"Oh, but you were, my friend," Jonathan laughed, shaking his head in mock-amazement. "You most assuredly were!"

"I was not!" Alex argued hotly.

"Were too!" Jonathan snapped back, both glaring over the discarded chess game.

"Just because you're upset that I'm better than you--"

"Better?" the older one gaped, his jaw slack with the unhelpful depth of his largely lacking belief. "Better than me? Oh, you're daft, Alex."

"Then why do I have more pawns than you?" countered Alex, smiling with smug certainty as he crossed his arms over his thin chest.

"I've got as many of yours," argued Jonathan, mouth settling stubbornly before he adopted a collected air, adding loftily, "and besides, I've been letting you win. All those pieces?" A grand gesture followed as he finished airily, "I let you have them."

Alex looked utterly furious. "You did not!"

"I did too!"

"You did not!" he offered counterpoint angrily, his mouth drawing up into a square, unmoving bow.

"I most certainly did," Jonathan sniffed, "and after all, you're only a little boy, aren't you, and you know what that means?" He paused dramatically, the knowing smile - verging on a lofty smirk - that was Carnahan blood showing and earning a suspicious glance, along with the O'Connell eyebrow twitch, from Alex. "Seniority," he spoke seriously and with a righteous expression of triumph. "I've got seniority, my boy, and all you've got on your side is youth. I'm thusly right and you are," he emphasized carefully, "wrong."

Alex's jaw dropped in outrage, an incredulous look of sheer what-does-that-have-to-do-with-it and widened granite eyes merged with astonished, childish rage. "I don't even know what that means!" he protested finally after stringing together his argument in his head. "You're just upset 'cause you know I'm better than you are." To add even further to the insult, he stuck his pink tongue out and adding injury of pride, he crossed his eyes with a sneer.

Jonathan had begun to vocalize his displeasure by means of infantile name-calling when the elegant light fixtures in the manor flickered as one, plunging for a terrifying heartbeat into abysmal darkness; in that tremoring span an eerie blue lanced behind the burgundy shields of the drapes, a chilling glow that struck them both motionless, and after a suspended second the lights hummed back with comforting electricity. They waited, argument forgotten and friendship magnified by their communal fear, until the sky growled its bestial fury and the noise resonated through the foundation. It was an old, primitive reaction to imagine the thunder had reached to his skeleton, and Alex shivered, feeling it reverberating among his bones.

/Old, powerful magic,/ Mum had said once, her teasing smile and gentle hug allaying his fears then. /The Egyptian people revered storms once; they fed the Nile, which, of course, brought life to Egypt. You have nothing to fear from the storms, Alex: Egyptian blood runs within you./

He wished she and Dad were home, close enough to touch and be known as alive. He found it hard as the rains flooded forth out of the clouds, to remember precisely the small details - the slender strength of Mum's arms, the rasp of Dad's shadowed chin - that wove into a whole, and it made him feel worthlessly small in the manor, the cursed calm in a storm.

"Uncle Jon?" he started, his voice smaller than he wanted. Jonathan his uncle and friend was attentive, a bulge in his throat moving when he swallowed nervously. "Are you afraid?" And it hung in the air as admission and request, from child to adult as he sought something with which to ground himself in reality, as Alex shifted with the anxious excitement due his seven years.

Jonathan took a moment to collect his dignity as the thunder faded and silence, thick and malignant, overwhelmed the manor once again. "Me? Afraid?" he scoffed theatrically, swallowing hard again with a glance toward the window. "Belay that idea immediately, old chap, it'll take more than a little thunder to scare good ol' Jonathan when he's watching his nephew." He smiled and made a two-finger salute of sorts to cement his bravery, and another, closer spike of lightning flickering through the drapes had him jumping along with Alex. "Christ," he swallowed, heavily, his jugular bobbing with the motion, "that was awfully close, wasn't it?"

Thunder combusted soon after, a scowling roll of cacophonic noise that shook the windows with the sheer force of its timbre, and Alex fixed his uncle once again with a cocked eyebrow and sardonic expression. It was easily a challenge of Jonathan's illusion of bravery and maturity, which the man did his best to ignore politely as he waited for the rumbling sounds to recede.

"Well," started Jonathan brightly. "Why don't we go upstairs to wait for your mum and da, then? I'd - well, that is, you'd," he recovered swiftly from his unintentional blunder, "feel a bit safer upstairs, I think, so why don't we hurry on up and get away from this awful game board." A look of supreme, frank hatred was delivered to the marble board by both, and Alex obligingly stood, knocking both kings - ebony and ivory - over with a cracking knuckle, much to Jonathan's relief. "Sally forth, young Alex! Up we go!"

-

When Alex was four, there was a trip - the first of a great many - to Cairo and the ruins spread out from it along the all-powerful Nile, at his mother's insistence and his father's reluctant interest, a state of matters Alex was familiar and well-versed with; Dad was brave and an excellent fighter, all right, but Mum was the true adventurer, seeking out new and frightening, or beautiful, things for her to devour in knowledge, while Dad liked to let well enough alone or at least allow whatever dangerous evil was rising to make an attempt to come to him. He was quicker, though, to strike and casually knock a path into existence where Evie preferred to use a light touch and rationale. Two sides of the same coin, sharing a mixture of properties but needing the other chiseled half, the flip side with a different face and adjoined soil, for fear of a lonely emptiness that came from being struck out of a whole.

The fans in the zeppelin had deterred the heat for a moment stretched into hours, and the train had produced its own cooling winds to stave off the reality of the fiery air that spun the Egyptian sky. Clutching his mother's hand, his father and uncle heaving the collection of bags from train to depot, he inhaled the dusty Cairo air and stopped, feeling oddly small but enormous at once. Magic, he thought; big, old magic, and it was, both imagined and real though it would be three years until he knew the truth of the latter with its terrible excitement and fearful urgency. He glanced down at the floor, at the glistening marble there, and imagined how swift he might race over it, with his new boots and the fresh, surging sensation of ancient power.

"Phew, Evie," Uncle Jon said faintly, collapsing on an overstuffed suitcase; obviously the handiwork of his mother, as Rick tended to be a bit - rather, a great deal - thriftier when it came to packing. "Think you've got enough blouses in there to outfit the queen's navy yet?"

As she moved to engage her older, light-hearted brother in their customary give-take banter, Alex turned to face his dad, who had come to kneel beside the small, thoughtful boy - soon to grow into a precocious, mischievous lad, but that would not be for some time yet. "Dad," he began plainly, a thin breeze ruffling his gold hair as it did his father's russet, "am I really an 'gyptian?" He sounded awed, but rather puzzled by the voiced curiosity of this thought, as if he wanted very much to believe it but found the idea so incredible, it was difficult to accept with nary a hesitant question.

"Trust me," Rick spoke dryly, crouched by his son and face turning watchfully to his wife, "you've got Egyptian blood. The way you and your mother act sometimes, I wouldn't be surprised if you were related to kings." His baritone had a sarcastic, rough sound to it, a comforting texture many found abrasive but one Alex paid little heed to, having long associated it with the image of his father.

"Pharaohs," corrected Evie as, wielding a kit bag in each hand and a pleasant librarian's smile, she returned defeated from her encounter with Jonathan; he looked exceptionally pleased at his rare verbal victory. "Not kings, but pharaohs, Rick. Have you got your bag, Alex? Ready to go, then?" Looking up into the face he knew instinctively as his mother's, he nodded solemnly and grinned, a formidable gap in his teeth where a baby tooth had been accidentally knocked out the week prior.

They moved to leave, four in a family composed of they and at least one other not present but in the deserts he belonged to, and Rick paused, a step missed that was unseen though it was felt critically by each of the other three. He touched Evie's shoulder, a firm and familiar grip, and she gave him a quizzical look, covering the hand on her shoulder with her own smooth palm. It was a shared expression, one of the fleeting moments his parents constructed for themselves as often as possible, a creation of understanding and some deep connection that birthed itself oddly and often erratically, with neither warning nor sign.

He had grown accustomed to his mum and dad choosing peculiar moments to kiss or display affection by other means and so did not notice, not truly, but did make an infantile "ugh" sound in honor of time-old tradition. Jonathan echoed the sentiment emotionally as they both shuffled to look in another direction, an aimless boredom that kept them refrained from staring at the two: Alex with disgust, Jonathan with amazement of a most unsupportive breed. After a moment of admiring the sleek shine of his freshly purchased boots, the child heard his mother giggle once and his father laugh quietly, and feeling obliged to do so, grinned up at his uncle. Jonathan smiled sheepishly, rather against his decided will, and clapped a hand on his nephew's head.

"Well," said Mum a bit breathlessly, but cheerily, "we're all set and ready to go then, are we?" She smiled sunnily, a mischievous look to her elegantly tapered eyes, and the corners of her mouth twitched secretively when she glanced at her husband.

Small things like this - his mother's telling smiles, his father's protective impulses, his uncle's adolescent demeanor - wove together and soothed him; now the land of Egypt seemed foreign and mystical, bordering on threat with its alien magic, but already he could feel this was something powerful, an unspoken familiarity, and he knew a deep trust. A child's faith in his parents, that they could and easily would protect him and each other, was born in absolution within his chest and with a shout, grinning broadly, Alex raced into the Cairo sunlight, demanding they follow him. Uncle Jon was the first, dressed in white and squinting down his narrow nose in protest of the sun glaring down upon him, and he smiled cheerfully at the boy, dropping two suitcases to the parched earth.

And as always, his parents, auburn and raven, came out together, close enough to brush their shoulders but walking at their own distinctive paces: Rick with his powerful, long strides, and Evie with her swift, delicate steps.

-

In the rain, curled in his bed and listening to the water pouring heavily down the window panes and onto the roof with his eyes half-closed, Alex kept the fear of lightning away with memories. Soft snores, hardly audible in the storm but a cozy symphony in the lonely dark, emanated from the shadowed, slumped form of his uncle sprawled in an apparently awkward position over the soft length of the small sofa in Alex's room. They had spent an hour playing word games, each eventually dissolving into a rash fit of name-calling and brash, unsupported accusations questioning the other's honor until finally the younger had feigned exhaustion and retreated to the safety of his covers.

He remembered as the minutes ticked by, as the winds muttered sinister vows in the darkness, the hatred on his father's face after - Alex stared, his arm feeling naked where the bracelet had been but a minute before, at his mum, unmoving and horribly quiet, and wished with each thudding pulse of his blood that he still wore the bracelet, that he had died and she not; a stillness came to the hunched figure of his dad, a terrible dark wrath of loss and rage, as the winds of the beautiful oasis fluttered through the ancient roots of immortal evil - the woman, Meela who was Anck-su-namun, slew his mother. There was knowledge in that, to know his father grew calm as his willingness to bring retribution, no matter how impossible, to Imhotep grew, a quiet and puzzling glimpse into the intricacies that had formed their small family, knit it together.

Alex shifted in his bed, feeling oddly comforted by the remembrance of a deep, paramount love, and peered at his uncle sleeping with subtle noise. Jonathan was his friend and ally; though they tended to find themselves in potentially dangerous situations, such as mummy attacks on double-decker buses or accidentally breaking priceless statuettes of Mum's, it had been Uncle Jon who popped Anck-su-namun square in the face and Uncle Jon who took the time to muck around like a small child with Alex.

Uncle Jon, he decided, was a decent fellow, all right; still, he wondered briefly when he closed his eyes, why the heck would Dad ever have reason to punch him?

When he opened his eyes again, it was slowly and with a sense of disorientation, a kind of surprise in his limp, warmed body that comes from a careful waking out of a bottomless sleep with nary a dream to speak of. Raindrops pattered, very quietly, on the windows, their speed and fury diminished into a gentle, caressing fall that refreshed and sounded musically, distantly, as if being heard through a heavy cloth cast about his ears, pleasantly obscuring his senses. Yawning, burrowing his face in the pillow and curling slightly, he heard his mother murmur and her hand - the scent of fresh rain accompanying the cool touch - smoothed over his face, brushing in an absent, sleepy gesture the wisps of blonde hair plastered to his small forehead.

Curious and with his own sleep-dulled movements, Alex struggled from under the slender arm cast over his waist, fingers feeling for the body facing him, drowsily certain it was not just Mum at his back. His fingertips grazed the alternating sharp and soft bristles he recognized as the faint shadow tracing his dad's jaw and upper lip, and smiled slightly to himself at the solid texture of his parents' presence. A strong hand, large and rough in a tired, tempered way, fell on his head, tousling the golden strands with worn affection.

"Go to sleep, Alex," he heard his father in distant harmony with the rain and his mother's gentle, even breathing, and curling between his mother and father, he closed his eyes again; the fragrance of rain and thunder, shaded with sand and earthen loam, drifted him away as a rush in the Nile, soothed and enveloped by the love of a whole and the quiet sounds of Jonathan asleep on the couch.

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End!

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Feedback: I know it's neither perfect nor close to such, but I enjoyed writing it (and I certainly hope you enjoyed reading it!). Reviews, really, are very appreciated.

Disclaimer: I wished I owned Jonathan, but I don't. Or any of the other characters, for that matter. All hail Stephen Sommers! ;]