A/N: Well, I don't know where this came from. Really I don't. It's told mostly in first person from Tom Sawyer's point of view. At the end it changes to third person. Thanks to Clez, who answered my endless questions to make sure I got this right. Don't own LXG, blah, blah, blah.

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~Innocence Lost.~

The Mississippi river.

Just the name was enough send shivers down my spine. I love that river.

I love the way the water could be any color from blue to green to a muddy brown. I love the breeze you would get from the river and the slightly fishy smell that would come with it. I love the way the long grass would move in the wind and the feeling of tips of grass that would tickle at your bear legs as you ran past.

Do you remember the Mississippi, Huck?

Can you remember the way we would run along the banks trying to out run a leaf that might be floating on the river's surface?

Listen to me going on about the Mississippi like this. You wouldn't have thought it me, old Thomas Sawyer talking would you. I should be talking about the last mission I was on or Mina or... something else.

I got him Huck.

I shot the Phantom. The only thing was I shot him in the back. A pity, now he will never know who fired the bullet. I promised myself he would see my face before I killed him, promised myself he see the hate and the revenge in my eyes.

I promised myself he would know why I shot him.

But... something happened on my solo mission. Don't ask me what because I don't know. It was a mixture of thing I think. Allan Quartermain, Mina... saving the whole world. I had about three chances before Mongolia when I could have killed him and each time I held back, each time something just was not right.

There was that time outside Dorian Gray's house. I was standing by the corner, my hat pulled low and the collar turned right up in an effort to protect myself from rain that was slowing stopping - but not after drenching me. I saw him, he almost walked past me.

I could feel the hate growing in the pit of my stomach, could almost taste revenge in my mouth. Yet I didn't shoot him. It wasn't because there were other people around... he could have been surrounded by fifty Mr. Hyde's and I still would have shoot him. No, it was because he turned his back to me and before I could find my voice to call him he had gone into the building.

You don't know about Hyde do you? He is the alter ego of the most timid man I have ever met, Dr. Jekyll. Hyde is the most savage brut after the Phantom.

If I had shoot him then I knew his men would have killed me. I couldn't care. I didn't care about anything then, just ridding the world of that monster.

The second time was in Dorian Gray's house. I had not even begun to get over the disappointment of not killing him when I was faced with another chance. I blew it again, though this time it was just my aim seemed off.

I'm sorry I couldn't shoot him when it mattered...

I met Allan Quartermain, Huck. Yeah, I had no idea who he was either when I met him. I knew he was the leader of this band of people who were going to go after the Phantom so I knew it was him I had to talk to. Gave him my rifle. The modified Winchester one.

Yeah, I can just see your face when you heard that. Me, Agent Sawyer, give this man I had only just met my most treasured weapon. It was okay though, I still had another rifle. Yours.

I know I promised to bury it with you, but that would mean letting go of you, admitting you were dead and I couldn't do that Huckleberry, I couldn't just throw you away like that.

When I come back to Missouri, back to St. Petersburg, I will leave it by your grave, just like I promised.

But that's not what I was talking about, now was it. I was talking about Quartermain. He was only the greatest British explorer in the world. Not much eh. I killed him.

Just like I killed you.

It was me that wanted to follow the Phantom that night, it was me that ignored the feeling in my gut that something was wrong when we went round that bend. In my heart I suspected a trap but I was just too eager to get the bad guy. It was all still a game to me. It was me that just stood there and watched as he shoot you. It was me who held you and could do nothing but see you die before my very eyes.

It was my burning need for revenge that got Quartermain killed. It was my stupidity that was the cause of Skinner being badly burned.

I'm not too sure about Skinner you know. He is a thief plain and simple. He calls himself a 'Gentleman thief'. Really, that's just a thief... but I think he is a good man. He saved my life in M's base at the expense of his own skin. About an hour later Allan Quartermain saved my life at the expense of his own life.

But I'm getting ahead of myself again. The third time I had chance to kill the Phantom was in Venice. I was driving Captain Nemo's 'automobile' - Captain Nemo is this weird Indian who has the most amazing inventions. His automobile was so much more advanced than anything we have over in America. Anyway, I was driving the automobile. You would have loved it Huck.

It was fast and powerful. The wheel responded to my slightest touch, the engine roared and gave me even more power - it ended up going faster than even I could imagine. As I was driving, Quartermain in the seat next to me, we both saw the Phantom in a side alley. I wanted to jump from the moving automobile so bad, but Quartermain didn't know how to drive it and Venice still needed to be saved. So I let Quartermain jump for me, knowing he was more than likely to kill the guy.

When I drove that automobile off the road and into the air, turning to fire off the flare I believed that the Phantom would be dead in a matter of minutes. As I crashed towards a building I didn't know why I was even trying anymore.

I felt empty. The Phantom was about to die, you were dead and Becky hated me. What did I have left?

The automobile landed upside down and I was trapped under it. There was one of Nemo's rockets flying towards me and for a split second I wanted to just stay there and accept the fiery death that would embrace me.

But I couldn't.

You wanna know why Huck? It was all because of you. I hadn't done what I promised - there was still a rifle to return. It was as if you were there, in among the rubble, urging me to move my lazy butt.

Good thing I did because the Phantom got away from Quartermain. I couldn't believe I had almost given up. If I had the Phantom would have won and I would have failed you and I would have broken another promise.

I'm already too guilty, I don't think my heart would have been able to deal with any more guilt. I broke my promise to Becky to bring you home safely.

It was in Venice that we all found out who betrayed us to the Phantom. We all thought it was Skinner. I'm not really sure why, probably because we couldn't see him. In the end though it turned out to be Dorian Gray.

The Bastard.

I never liked him, from the moment I saw him in his dusty rooms I just knew he was trouble. Yet again I didn't listen to my heart and look where I ended up. The Nautilus was sinking and we were all trapped in it.

Thanks to Mr. Hyde though we were able to surface and thanks to Skinner we were able to follow the Phantom and Gray to Mongolia where I finally did it.

So why don't I feel so good? Why don't I feel happy that I made it up to you?

Do you remember what my Aunt Polly used to tell me? She would say that everything that happened in life was some kind of lesson. If she had known about that time I was soaked outside Becky Thatcher's house then she would have told me there was some kind of lesson there.

I was never much good at learning lessons.

Do you what to know what lesson I learnt during the Phantom's attacks on the world? I learnt that once you loose your innocence you can never get it back. Not only that but anything you once thought of with innocence was then tainted with sorrow.

I can't remember Becky smiling at laughing without then remembering her tear stained face at your funeral.

I can't remember you, with your cocky grin without then remembering your white face, the all too important life blood draining away from a bullet hole. Such a tiny bullet hole, yet so much blood.

I can't even remember the Mississippi without remembering the fact that Joe, you and I will never run along the banks again.

I learnt that once innocence is lost, it can never been found again.

Innocence can be lost in an instant.

~~~

Tom paused and looked at the words he had written on the paper. It didn't seem a proper tribute to Huck. It was supposed to be a letter to him, but ended up just being a random jumble of his thoughts.

The American sighed and picked up the papers, moving out of his room. The corridor outside was nearly empty, the whole ship had been subdued lately, the death of Allan Quartermain still weighing heavily on everyone's mind.

He moved upwards through the Nautilus and soon reached the conning tower, where Quartermain had taught him how to shoot.

A smile tugged at his lips as he remembered his disbelief and the way he had replied.

//I know how to shoot.\\

Tom had said it in a cocky way, yet lurking under it was a sudden fear that Quartermain didn't think he was good enough anymore.

//I've seen you shoot, very American, fire enough bullets and hope to hit the target.\\

Tom allowed the smile to come to his lips. Then it faded, he had lost so much on this mission, lost more than he thought he had. He opened his hand, letting the letter to Huck float down, to rest gently on the water.

As Tom watched, the paper slowly dissolved into the water, one line becoming visible for a split second. Tom stared at the line, before repeating it under his breath.

"Innocence can be lost in an instant."

~The End.~

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A/N: There you have it. Hope everyone enjoyed it... hope you all review. ; )

~Sethoz