Disclaimer: 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' movie is copyright of 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
By Etcetera Kit
New and a bit alarming- who'd have ever thought that this could be? True that he's no Prince Charming, but there's something in him that I simply didn't see. -Something There, Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast
What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life. -Walt Whitman
Chapter One: Aboard the Nautilus
Wilhelmina Harker leaned against the railing on the deck of the Nautilus, letting the sea breeze blow strands of her red-brown hair loose. The wind whipped around her face, creating a pleasant stinging sensation, one of the few sensations she was still able to feel. Being a vampire, even one as weak as she, had its drawbacks. She should have been able to feel the warm sunshine on her face, but she felt nothing except for the beginnings of an acute headache. It had been two weeks.
Two weeks since Alan Quartermain died.
Two weeks since she killed Dorian Gray.
And two weeks since Henry Jekyll began to take care of her.
The remaining members of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had decided one week ago to accompany Captain Nemo on a voyage around the world. That had been right after Mr. Q's funeral. There were five of the original seven members left. Captain Nemo, Agent Tom Sawyer, Rodney Skinner, Henry Jekyll and her… they made a motley crew, five people who looked like they would never have ordinarily kept each other company, let alone go on a world tour together. But here they were, taking most of the voyage at the water level so the passengers could enjoy the sun and outside air.
Her eyes swept over the deck. Sawyer, with his blonde hair falling over his eyes in the usual fashion, was practicing shooting at red balls one of Nemo's crew would fire every so often. Skinner, actually wearing clothes but no make-up, was harassing Nemo, as the frazzled Indian captain of the Nautilus gave instructions to crew members recharging the solar panels. And then there was Henry. He was leaning over the railing, far apart from her. His brown hair appeared tinged with auburn in the sun and he was neatly dressed as was his fashion. Henry…
After they had attacked M's headquarters and destroyed his plot, her memory was sketchy. She had chased down and corned Dorian Gray, her former lover. The attack was blurred for everything except the end when she showed him his portrait and he died. She did not remember how she got back to the ship. Someone else had to fill in those pieces. She woke up the next morning.
Henry was sitting by her bedside, gently pressing a cool cloth to her forehead. He looked pale and shaky, but grateful to be alive. The formula had already drained him some and, no doubt, whatever happened between the formula running out and getting back to the ship had taken its toll as well. He smiled gently at her, wearing his shirt and vest but not the jacket and tie which was unusual for him. He handed her a warm mug.
"Drink this," he said softly. "It will help."
She took the mug from him and stared at the contents. Blood… and someone had kept it warm. Someone knew that cold blood was enough to make a vampire gag. The blood was always best straight from the vein… but warmed blood outside its source was a decent substitute.
"Who's blood?" she asked softly. It had to be someone's blood. There were no animals aboard and no one had the time to try and drain the blood from any meat in the kitchen. Perhaps it came from one of the deceased soldiers. She shuddered.
Henry gave her a tired smile and pulled the blankets around her. "Does it really matter whose blood it is?" he asked.
She found out later that it had been Henry's blood. Sawyer had come in later that day to visit her and managed to spill what Henry had intended to keep from her. The American had cheekily grinned at her.
"How was the blood?"
Mina nearly choked on her tea. "Excuse me?"
"Just wondering," Sawyer had defended himself.
"How do you know about the blood?" she asked.
Sawyer suddenly looked uncomfortable. "I watched Jekyll slice his wrist and let the blood drip into that mug."
The boy left when Henry came back in. It was then that Mina noticed the bandage on his wrist and realized that he did not look pale and tired from the formula or what happened the day before. He was pale and tired because he had given his blood to help her feel better. Touched that he would give his blood for her and knowing that Dorian would never in a million years, she smiled as he sat on the edge of her bed.
"How do you feel?" he asked softly, taking her hand.
"I think I should be asking how you feel."
He shrugged, cobalt blue eyes meeting hers. "It's nothing."
"No," she countered, taking his face in her hands. "It was something. It was something Jonathan would have done."
"You loved him?" It was not a statement, but a question.
"I loved Jonathan," she agreed.
She smiled sadly. "I never loved that bastard."
From that moment on, she knew that Henry would always take care of her. He probably loved her, if for no other reason than what he had seen recently. And he had been ready to sleep on his feet when she got up and began to help with the patients and Skinner's multiple burns. Nemo was nowhere to be seen as he was helping the scientists and their families settle into their quarters. Sawyer looked ready to faint as Henry had him helping bandage wounds and set broken bones. Mina had rolled her eyes as he gratefully slunk out of the infirmary. For such a bold, high-talking young man, he certainly did not have much stomach for a hospital ward. And Mr. Q was dead.
It had taken them one week to get the scientists home and take Mr. Q's body to Africa where the locals arranged a small funeral. And they arranged for him to be buried next to his son. Soon after the funeral, they had come back to the Nautilus and that had been their home for the past week. After all they had been through together and after all they had seen, no one was particularly eager to get back to the normal hubbub of everyday life. And none of them, with perhaps the exception of Sawyer, had any loved ones to get back to. They were mourning, mourning for Alan, mourning for each other and mourning for themselves.
And the changes showed.
Sawyer had gotten more quiet and subdued since Alan's death and since Skinner's recovery. When they surfaced, he spent hours practicing hitting targets and when they were below, he stayed holed up in his room. What he did in there was anyone's guess. Skinner now wore clothes all the time and seemed to genuinely want to befriend everyone on the ship. But that still did not make him refrain from harassing Nemo when the opportunity presented itself. Nemo was trying to keep control on Skinner before he caused irreversible damage. And Henry… Henry seemed more at peace with himself. Before, he could be seen muttering to himself… or more, to Hyde. Now he just walked with an easy gait and a smile. And he was performing all kinds of unnecessary niceties for her. He would pull out her chair, open doors, walk her back to her room after dinner… almost like Jonathan. Except Jonathan would not have had that passionate look in his eyes.
Mina jumped as Sawyer hit a target closer to the ship that normal. Skinner cursed under his breath.
"Warn someone before you do that!" the gentleman thief yelled, slumping against the railing and leaving Nemo alone for once.
She turned to Henry, who was staring the direction of the shot, eyes wide as saucers. He then turned back to the water and the setting sun, muttering under his breath about the 'stupid American.' She smiled. Perhaps things would get back to normal. She had felt like the world would never go on after Jonathan died, but here she was, on a ship full of men.
"Dinner is served."
Mina turned to the Indian who just came on deck.
"Oh good, I'm starving!" Skinner said, entering the cabin first. Sawyer followed him, shouldering the rifle. The Indians who had been working on the solar panels filed into the ship quietly and quickly. Nemo gestured towards Mina and Henry.
"Mrs. Harker… Dr. Jekyll."
Henry bowed slightly to Nemo. "Captain," he replied and entered the ship. Mina followed him, giving a brief smile to Nemo.
Dinner was a quiet affair. The chatter that had mindlessly filled the room before Mr. Q's death was absent. Before, Skinner would have spent most of the meal egging on Dorian and shaking with silent laughter as the previous immortal got madder and madder. Nemo and Mr. Q would have been talking quietly about M or the Phantom. Sawyer and Jekyll would make small talk with Dorian or Skinner occasionally entering their conversation. And everyone tried to politely include Mina, who was not interested in anyone's conversation.
Mina sighed, picking at her food. The food had no taste. Her only incentive to eat was to stay alive. Blood would have satisfied her hunger well, but being on a ship in the middle of the ocean, one had to make sacrifices. And she knew how to feed on her victims without killing them. The killing was a weapon, not a routine. She hated to kill innocents. She abhorred the fact that she had to survive on another's life force. She put her fork next to her plate. There was no way she was going to get any of this down.
Nemo gave her a concerned look. "Would you prefer something else, Mrs. Harker?" he asked. The Indian was always concerned with his guests and that they were happy. If one was not entirely satisfied with the food prepared for dinner, then Nemo would send to the kitchen for something the guest did like.
She shook her head. "No, I'm just not hungry."
Mina looked up and her eyes met Henry's from across the table. He knew what it was she wanted and what she craved. And that was what made her a monster. She did not want Henry to offer her more blood. It was the last thing he needed done to him and the last thing she wanted to do.
His deep blue eyes were drilling a hole straight through her. How could he be so penetrating with just one stare? The look in his eyes said many things- love, passion, concern, a fierce loyalty and understanding. He knew what it was like to be considered a monster. 'Henry, don't look at me like that,' she pleaded inwardly. 'I am the last person you want to love. I'll only end up hurting you. I can't give my heart away again so soon!'
She stood up abruptly and left the table.
Later, in her room, the headache that had been plaguing her all day intensified. She did not know if it was from the sunlight or the pounding emotions that would not leave her be. She had not thought about Jonathan in so long and his face was a clear image before her eyes. She remembered his gentle nature, his intense love for her. She recalled all the time she had spent learning how to write shorthand and use a typewriter so she could be helpful to him. And she had lost him in the end anyways.
They had no children. And Jonathan had died from the last battle they had with Count Dracula. Quincey Morris died too… Dr. Seward, Lord Godalming and herself had walked away from it, but not before the Count had given her the bite. The transformation was not complete, it never had been complete. If it had been, she would not have been able to tolerate eating food or the sunlight or garlic… but she still craved the blood. But she was eternally grateful that the transformation had never been completed. The Count was afraid of her.
And her life had spiraled. She met Dorian and was intrigued by him. He was so different from Jonathan and his lust overcame her. He did not know she was part vampire and he never needed to know. The passion was enough for a time. And the fact that M had wanted her to convince Dorian to join the League had confused her. How did M know about what had gone on between them? But she did not question it and Dorian joined the League, only to ransack them and their secrets and seduce her again.
A soft knock came on the door. Mina sighed and took a moment to stand up. The pounding in her forehead became worse. It was probably Nemo, making sure she did not want a late supper after the incident at dinner. She pulled her dressing gown securely around her nightgown, knowing it was not proper attire for a lady to be seen in. But it was only Nemo, who lived by an entirely different set of standard than the rest of the world. She did not think he would mind too terribly much or care.
She moved slowly to the door and opened it, taking a moment to register who was really at her door. It was not Nemo. It was Henry. Instinctively, she pulled the dressing gown closed at her throat.
"Dr. Jekyll," she said softly.
He smiled. His smiles were genuine and lit up his entire face. "How many times have I told you to please call me Henry?"
Mina returned the smile. "Many."
"I just came to see how you are feeling."
"Liar," he replied, succinctly. "Something is wrong."
She sighed. She was not going to get rid of Henry as easily as she could get rid of Nemo or even Sawyer. "Come in," she said, opening the door all the way. He followed her in and shut the door behind them. She motioned to a chair in the sitting area of the room and took the seat across from him. Henry took a seat easily and loosely crossed his legs. Mina was amazed at how comfortable he was with himself recently. It was like he had conquered his devils.
"What is wrong?" he asked softly, once she had situated herself.
"It's just a headache. It's nothing serious."
Henry leaned forward in his chair. "Is it from the lack of blood?"
Mina shook her head. "No. I've gone longer than this without blood before and we'll be pulling into port in Egypt soon enough."
"Does the sunlight bother you?"
He shook his head. "You are nothing like the folk legends I've heard about vampires." His blue eyes became more intense. "Are the legends even true?"
"The legends are true, but Count Dracula never completed the transformation. I had to discover for myself what I can and cannot do. But I need the blood, crave it."
"I'm sure we can find something on the ship."
"Henry, don't trouble yourself. We'll be in Egypt soon."
He shook his head and stood up, a smile playing over the corners of his mouth. "If you do decide you need anything, you know where to find me." He crossed the small space between them and took her hand. Raising it to his lips, he gently but firmly planted a kiss on the back of her hand. He then gave the digits a light squeeze before her left the room. The door closed after him with a definitive 'click.'Mina sighed and rose from her chair, her head protesting in every way. Why did it seem that the headache stopped just as Henry entered the room? Now it was back. She quickly turned off the lights in her room and got into bed. Henry did not need to be involved with her. He had his own demons to sort out.