Disclaimer: Not mine. The concept goes to America's Best Comics and Alan Moore and Fox 20th cent., the characters come from their classics. I don't make any money off this, and as a starving student, neither will you if you sue me.
"We're two days from docking. Nemo and Marlowe are splitting up, gonna move most of Marlowe's crew over to the Nautilus and we'll go on ahead, make it there by tomorrow morning or so, do a bit o' reconnaissance, either wait for Marlowe or go in, I dunno. Whichever." He shrugged, then cocked his head and listened to the shower in the next room. He got no answer from Jekyll, but he didn't expect one.
Skinner sighed and reached out to fiddle with the clock on the mantle. He had moved Jekyll into his room until they could get the blood out of the doctor's. The poor man had argued until apparently Hyde told him to just go, whatever it was Jekyll stopped arguing. But he did a fantastic impression of being put upon, slumping his shoulders and frowning and looking like depressed puppy. A puppy that could turn into a frothing wolf, but never mind that.
"So it's dinner in the salon tonight, or not, but it'll be shark fin soup no matter where we eat it. And maybe some fried strips of calamari, that's always good," Skinner's voice trailed off thoughtfully. He was hungry. And the room was beginning to fill with steam. He raised his voice again, "You alright, 'enry?"
"Yes," Jekyll called back. The water shut off. Skinner shifted in his coat as the leather began to stick to his skin with the humidity. He fidgeted and tugged on the cuffs, then pulled the jacket off and laid it over the back of his armchair. He threw himself down onto the cushion and began tapping his foot.
"How silly of me," Jekyll's voice preceded him, "I seem to have forgotten to get fresh clothing – may have to go back to my room…" He wandered into the parlor in Skinner's dressing gown, sticking to his flesh here and there in damp patches. Skinner drew himself upward.
"Skinner?" Jekyll asked. He saw the jacket on the back of the armchair, then heard the soft sound of the cushion re-plumping, meaning a body had recently vacated. Jekyll swallowed nervously, looking from side to side. Hyde was certainly no help right now.
"Henry," Skinner said softly. He stood mere inches away from that awful paisley pattern on the robe, a cream against maroon that had made him laugh the first time he saw it. A drop of water trailed down the side of Jekyll's face and before he could stop himself, Skinner reached out and touched it.
Skinner drew his hand back and noted that his fingertip was now visible and he rubbed his fingers together until the water dried.
"R-rodney?" Jekyll whispered. Skinner's Christian name sounded alien on his tongue, and he looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"Ducks, you – " Skinner touched Jekyll's neck with three fingers this time and put his fingers to his lips. Now, even without the makeup, he was making himself visible, and Jekyll wasn't pulling away. What a frightening, enlightening experience.
Jekyll's lips moved to form a question but he bent forward just slightly mesmerized and closed the distance between them achingly slow. He just barely brushed Skinner's mouth with his own when someone pounded on the door and they jumped apart.
"Damn," Skinner hissed. Jekyll licked his lips nervously, then turned and went into the bathroom again, running one hand over his damp hair distractedly.
Skinner sighed. He went to open the door and frowned when he saw the boy. "What?" he demanded.
Sawyer's eyes widened. "Skinner?" he asked.
Sawyer looked from side to side nervously, searching for the other man, "Dinner's ready in about five."
Skinner swung the door shut without answering. Damn. Stupid – stupid boy, he thought venomously.
"You get that, ducks? Dinner in five," he called.
"Y-yes, certainly," Jekyll murmured. He passed by Skinner without looking at him, brushing shoulders as he continued to the door.
"Hey, where're you going?" Skinner asked.
"To get my clothes," he said. He kept his head turned slightly to one side.
"Oh, alright. Then I'll see you in the salon? Would you like me to go wid – "
"No! No, I'll see you with the others."
Skinner stood in his parlor after the door swung shut once more. "Right then," he whispered.
Sawyer picked at the meat floating in something that tasted like his Aunt's chicken broth – if he closed his eyes and tried not to think about it. No one was saying anything, a not uncommon occurrence these days. Skinner was wearing an approximation of a face, greasepaint slathered on quickly, nothing like his previously careful application.
The invisible man ate with large quick bites, chewing briefly and swallowing, as though keeping his mouth full would excuse him from partaking in any conversation. If Sawyer were hungrier or if this had been anything but shark fin staring up at him he'd do the same. As it was he pushed the meat again and looked over Skinner's shoulder to one of the end tables. Yesterday it'd held one of the vases with dying or dead roses; someone had removed the vase and replaced it with a small statuette of a squid.
Even with half the remaining crew dead, someone had found the time and energy to prettify Nemo's ship. Sawyer felt like he should laugh.
Skinner glanced over and met his eyes, "What?" he asked, mouth full.
Tom shook his head, "Nothin'."
Jekyll looked up briefly, then turned back to his food. Skinner glanced over at him, but it looked for all the world as though Jekyll were listening to someone only he could hear. Hyde? The other voice?
Mina spoke first, "We have concluded that the quickest manner of action will be sending in a spy of sorts," here she looked significantly at Tom. He caught himself before he frowned. "To gather information. Ask about slaves, recent slaves, what kind of slaves. The whereabouts – "
"I got it," he snapped. It wasn't like he was stupid. Jekyll glanced at him again then stared at his bowl. Something was off with him. Him and Skinner both. The invisible man kept shooting little glances at Jekyll like he was worried or something.
Mina frowned at his outburst and opened her mouth to remonstrate him but Nemo interrupted. From there they got into a real polite argument about how he should dress, what his story should be.
Tom figured poncho, dirt, guns, and the backstory he could make up as he went along. Too much detail and they knew something was up. He was a trained secret agent, after all. This way, it would be just like old times, him and Huck…
Tom stabbed the flesh and chewed vengefully.
Skinner shifted on the chaise lounge. The bloody thing was meant for sitting, or lounging, but it was right horrible for sleeping. He'd given the bed to ducks – and the thought of Henry in his bed made his head feel light and just a little dizzy – and was stuck with one arm falling asleep and cold toes.
He rolled over. One of his two precious pillows fell to the floor and his shoulder shifted abruptly. Skinner caught himself before he followed the pillow to the floor and hugged his arms tighter, shivering slightly. "Right then," he muttered.
He swung himself upright and rested his feet on the carpet for a moment before standing and re-wrapping the blanket around him. He walked to formerly his bedroom and stood in the doorway. Jekyll was wrapped in the remaining blankets, peaceful in his dreams. Under some strange compulsion, Skinner stepped closer, his feet making soft shushing sounds on the carpeting, miraculously missing any odds or ends that plagued bare toes in dark rooms.
Jekyll's hair was darker than auburn in the shadow, and he didn't snore. Skinner filed that fact away in the recesses of his mind, and stepped closer. He bent down slightly to study Henry's face in profile, licking his lips just barely. He reached out a hand to touch Henry's hair, very lightly, the barest of touches so as not to wake either doctor or monster.
Jekyll stirred and exposed part of his face mumbling inaudibly. Skinner drew back his hand then began inching it closer when Henry stilled.
Jekyll's eyes opened.
He looked around in confusion at first, then noticed the suspended blanket and his eyes widened in fear? Shock?
"Shh, s'just me, ducks," Skinner whispered. He rested his fingers on Jekyll's cheek for one glorious moment before Jekyll closed his eyes and drew a deep breath, turning his head away for an impromptu stretch.
"What time is it?" Henry asked.
"Oh, I don't know," Skinner stood upright, his shoulders and upper back aching.
"What are you doing in here?"
Skinner laughed, "I don't know." And he didn't. His throat ached and his chest ached, and he wanted to do nothing more than reach out and touch Henry again. Vaguely he wondered, in the back of his mind, what Hyde must think of this. Of him and ducks. Together. When the monster gave him the go ahead, did he know what that entailed?
"Can't you sleep?" Jekyll asked. He rolled one shoulder, stretching his arm up from under the covers, creating a fist at the end and scrunching his face delightfully.
"Ah, just a little chilly out there," Skinner said, apologetically.
Jekyll opened both eyes and stared at the ceiling. "Would you like to sleep here?" he whispered.
Skinner's breath caught. Very much yes. Yesyesyes. "I-if you…wouldn't mind," he choked out.
Wordlessly Jekyll shifted to one side, clearing the side of the bed closest to Skinner. The invisibles man fell into the mattress, bouncing slightly, then squirmed under the covers, still clutching the blanket. Jekyll may not appreciate the fact that he's naked so soon. If Jekyll doesn't appreciate, lord knows what the monster will think.
Jekyll slid his hand under the cover until it brushed Skinner's. Skinner stared over at Jekyll staring at the ceiling, then turned his hand over and welcomed Henry's. Henry clutched his, a firm grip of soft flesh to calluses, and then closed his eyes. Skinner watched the doctor as his breathing deepened and then slowly followed suit, savoring the feel of Henry's long fingers wrapped around his palm.
Wow, it's been over three months already. Feeling a little guilty here. My muse vacated the premises (ironically while I took a creative writing course) and I don't know when I'll next update. For those wondering about my personal website, it's non-existant. If you want to know about my other (one) fics out there, I'm changing my profile to show where they can be found.