Disclaimer: Thank you so much to everyone who has read this story and who kept coming back to read each new chapter as they came out. You are all so wonderful and I love you all! Here is the very last chapter of 'The Bodyguard' and I hope you enjoy it. For anyone who is interested, the title is taken from the song that was my main inspiration for Tom Sawyer in this story, Moving On by Good Charlotte.
No personal shout outs this time, as I wanted to get this part out as soon as I could. So instead thank you to;
Clez, Marcus Lazarus, tonianne, Silent Bob 546, LotRseer3350, Steffi-333, Lyn, Hebe, queerquail, Scifirogue-klutz, Graymoon74, Leigh S. Durron, freedomfighter82, Elven Writer and Silversnow
Chapter Thirty: Moving On.
Being one of the un-dead, a creature of the night, Mina Harker didn't need to eat normal food, not really. She indulged in the simple pleasure of eating human food for a number of reasons. The main one being that she wanted to appear as normal as possible. She knew she was different from the rest, a cursed life-form. The last thing Mina wanted to do was remind the few people she called her friends just how different she was. Another reason was simply the wish to be sociable. Nemo was almost fanatical in his wish for the League to dine together and while he did not force them to, they would eat together anyway. It gave them all the chance to talk about the day and make any plans.
Tom Sawyer had woken up five days ago. Three days ago he had been allowed to leave the infirmary, as Dr. Jekyll could think of no physical need to keep him there. For the past three days though he had eaten his meals in his room, refusing to eat with his team mates. The American seemed to crave his own company, barely saying more than two words to anyone.
The bruises were starting to fade, the cuts and other marks healing. The haunted look in his normally cheerful green eyes was still just as strong as ever. There was a shadow across him that hadn't been there before, something that threatened to crush Tom's spirit. And there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. In her desperation Mina had given Tom the Ankh she had found in his fist; in the hope that it would somehow snap him out of his depression. She didn't know if it had worked, as Tom had only been seen outside of his room once a day, when he had been forced to return to the infirmary for a check up. He had even stopped visiting the conning tower.
Sighing so lightly that no-one would hear her – though everyone at the table seemed engrossed in their own thoughts – she stabbed listlessly at the green vegetable on her plate. Mina lifted the morsel to her lips wishing that Tom would join them for the meals. It would be a sign that he was getting better and right now, Mina needed any sign.
The last rays of the dying sun filtered in through the porthole of Tom's cabin. That light was the only illumination the the room, the rest of the cabin shrouded in near darkness. On the haphazardly made bed by the wall sat Tom. He leaned against the bulkhead, one knee drawn up to his chest, his right arm flung across it. His left arm was lifted upwards, his hand closed around some thick dark brown thong. Hung around the thong was the silver Ankh. Tom silently sat there, watching the lump of shaped silver as if it would suddenly speak and tell him the answers to all of his questions.
It was in this position that Tom had spent most of his time since Mina had returned the Ankh to him. He was trying to work out what to do next – the Ankh had been given to him as a symbol of life and if he accepted it then it meant he had to keep fighting and Tom didn't know if he could do that.
Skinner had visited him a few hours ago, speaking through the door. He had tried to enter, only to find Tom had locked the door. There had been silence on the other side of the wood and for a long, horrible moment, Tom had thought Skinner was going to pick the lock and force a reluctant Tom to talk. Instead Skinner had sighed heavily and – to Tom's complete surprise – said sorry to him.
Why should Skinner say sorry to him? If anything, Tom should be apologizing to him, to say sorry for not being strong enough when it mattered. Instead Skinner had sounded sorry for knocking Tom out but the American didn't blame him in the slightest, if anything Tom should be thanking Skinner, thanking him for trying to save Tom, even though he didn't deserve it. He would have to tell the thief he didn't blame him... the next time he left his room.
Skinner was not a man used to talking to God. He had never really found time for some higher being that had taken no interest in Skinner's life, except to spit on it ever now and then.
Even so, he would have quite willingly prayed to God, to ask him how to help his friend. If only he could find the words to do so.
Tom stared into the mirror, having finally pulled himself from the bed. His hand was still holding the silver Ankh tightly. Tom stared at his image without blinking, scanning every part of his face, as if trying to understand something. He knew that Colonel Moriarty had gone after him because he had killed the Fantom. He knew that, but it didn't make it any easier to bear. The man had hurt him, used him to hurt his friends and Tom had given in to the man.
A crystal clear tear appeared in his right eye, the salty liquid welling up until finally it broke over the rim of the skin and trailed down his cheek. At once a range of emotions washed over him, filling him with each of their special characteristics before being replaced by the next. Words came to him, words that didn't seem to have come from his own mind. Words that summed it all up. Life. Hope. Truth. Trust. Faith. Pride. Love. Lust. Pain. Hate. Lies. Guilt. Laugh. Cry. Live. Die.
Die? He didn't want to die... did he?
Mina sat in her normal chair, trying to eat, though as always since Agent Sawyer's rescue she found her eyes flickering to the door every few seconds, her ears straining for the soft sound of his footsteps, to let her know he was joining them for dinner. Again she was disappointed, as the meal progressed and there was no sign of the young American.
It was getting harder and harder to resit the temptation of storming to his room, kicking the door open and dragging him out into the company of his friends. Ultimately though, Mina knew that such a course of action would do more harm than good and that Tom was waiting for something before he could begin to heal. She very much doubted if he was even aware of that fact, but all the same, Mina was convinced he was waiting for some sign, some answer to one of his many questions.
She only wished she could help him, but you can't help someone who won't help themselves and right now, Tom was simply wallowing in self pity.
He didn't want to die. Tom was sure of it. Yes, life was bad and it hurt. Yes, he felt guilty about everything that had happened, he felt guilty about Alice. Yes, he didn't know if he would ever be able to look the League in the face again... yes, he knew all this and more.
It didn't change the fact that Tom still found life such a precious gift. He would be wasting not only Huck's gift, but Allan's as well. He would even be wasting Alice's gift. It was one thing to not be able to look his friends in the eyes in life.
It was quite another to not be able to look his friends in the eyes for all of death.
He had to chose to live or to die and he had chosen the former. He now had to deal with his choice as best he could. And that meant talking to the League, thanking and apologizing to Skinner, training with his weapons again, feeling the sea breeze on his face. In short it meant leaving his room.
The meal was nearing it's end and Mina was glad. The awkward silence had been bad enough at the start, but now meals with the League had descended into gloomy quiet, that could not be lifted, not even if Skinner had the heart to try any of his tricks. He didn't feel like it.
A faint sound floated towards Mina's ears and she stiffened slightly, leaning forward so as to hear it better. Could it be...? The sound came closer and closer as the rest of the League noticed it and gradually what little eating had been going on ceased. The door opened and Tom stepped inside, looking around nervously. The confidence that had once been shining in Tom now was muted, faded somewhat.
"Hello... am... am I too late?" Tom asked, clearing his throat. Nemo rose from his chair and bowed low at his team mate.
"Not at all Agent Sawyer, please join us." He said. Tom nodded in thanks and quietly moved over to his seat, shooting Skinner a glance. He would have to talk to the invisible man later.
Around his neck, just visible above his shirt was some dark brown thong and hanging off that, resting near his heart hung a silver Ankh.
Only as you all now should know, it's not. The follow up, called 'Theft of the Dead' should be posted soon, keep a look out for it.
Thank you again to everyone who reviewed this and who has stuck through all 30 chapters. You guys rock in ways I cannot begin to describe.