Disclaimer: 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' movie is copyright of 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter Twenty: New and a Bit Alarming
-Two Years Later-
The day was unusually sunny and bright for an autumn day in London. The sky was bright blue and not the normal overcast gray that he had come to expect. Tom pulled his long black coat around him tighter at the cool breeze that ran over the square. Mina and Henry lived across the square from him and he was expected for tea in half an hour. The letter and telegram were tucked safely into his pocket and he smiled at the very thought of them.
There was a large patch of grass complete with trees and benches in the middle of the square and on nice summer days the young mothers would bring their children there. Today, it was deserted, which suited Tom fine. He chose a bench that was situated under a large tree and sat down at one end of it. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the battered and weather-beaten letter and the telegram. He opened the letter and read it first. It was the one he had received first and the one that was the reason for his constant smile.
I thought you would never ask! I'm taking the first ship out of Louisiana that will get me to London. Don't worry about wiring the money like you said you would- Papa has taken care of all of it. I suppose he is glad that I am finally going to be out of the house, but that will not stop him from crying when I get on the ship. I'll wire you when the ship stops somewhere and give you the approximate arrival date. I know it has been some time since we've seen one another, but I know in my heart that this is right. I have never felt anything so strongly in my life.
Everyone back home was so glad to see you last Christmas- more than you know. How on earth did you arrive so fast and leave so fast? I suspect it has something to do with those strange new friends you have in Europe…
The rest of the letter was filled with newsy ramblings about everyone in St. Petersburg, Missouri and a lengthy report on his Aunt Polly's health. As much as he loved the dear old woman, there was no way that he would bring her to London so she could irritate him. She would have to be content with his love from a distance. The letter was signed:
She did not have to restate what his fears had been in that letter. He had written to her and expected many things to happen. When he had gone back home for Christmas last year, he had not seen her and purposely avoided her, afraid that she might be married to someone else. Hasaan had taken care of all the transportation arrangements by making the trip to Missouri the last major voyage of the Nautilus for a while. The ship was now in dry dock somewhere. Tom did not know and knew that Hasaan was never going to tell him.
And now she was coming here. He almost wished she would have waited to make the transportations arrangements, because then he could have probably gotten Hasaan to take the Nautilus out of dry dock and use it to go pick her up. But it was a small matter. Soon enough she would be here and they could get married that same day. His mind wandered to the license and the ring in one of his bureau drawers in his house. His cook and housekeeper, a middle-aged lady by the name of Mrs. Devine, had been talking of nothing else for the past few weeks. He supposed she was glad that there was finally going to be a 'lady of the house.' Then again, Mrs. Devine was already gushing about possible children and how she was willing to be their nanny. Tom had just smiled, knowing already that Becky would have a thing or two to say about that assumption.
He carefully folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. He then unfolded the telegram and read it again. Skipping over the addressee part, he looked at the message:
Arriving at East London Docks on September the third. Can't wait to see you.
He smiled and then folded the telegram again. He placed both items securely back in his pocket. That was in two days. She would be here in two days. Mrs. Devine was in a right state, making sure that everything was perfect. Oh well. At least he was going to be out of the house this afternoon and Mrs. Devine could fuss about everything without him being 'underfoot.' It always amazed him how she had taken charge of his house so totally and completely. But he did not complain since she did her job well. She actually reminded him of all the gossiping ladies back in Missouri.
Looking at his pocket watch, he stood up and walked across the square to Henry and Mina's house. For such a beautiful day, the square certainly seemed empty. He picked up the knocker on the door and banged it several times. The door was opened almost immediately by Hasaan, dressed in white Indian garb complete with a turban.
Tom grinned remembering how Hasaan had asked Henry and Mina if he could be their butler until 'the Captain is released from prison.' Now, the diminutive man seemed right at home in their house and got along well with their housekeeper and nanny. Everyone on the square seemed to love Hasaan and it suited him well.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Sawyer," Hasaan greeted him with a slight bow. He stepped aside and allowed Tom to enter the house.
"Hasaan," Tom replied with a slight nod.
The entrance of their house was identical to his. The stairs leading to the second floor were on the immediate left and a door leading to the dining room was on the right. Everything else was reached by going down a hallway spanning from the center of the entrance hall to the very back of the house.
As Tom was handing Hasaan his coat and hat, a little boy slid down the stairs on his backside, making content gurgling noises as he went. He smiled. Thomas Allan Jekyll was just under a year old and was currently learning to walk. The boy also knew a few words and had some nonsense words he had made up to describe things. Little Tommy slid onto the landing and then hauled himself to his feet by grabbing the bottom stair rail and climbing up it.
Still clutching the rail, Tommy's face broke into a grin. "Unca' Tom!" he cried, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
Smiling, Tom went over to the boy and picked him up. "Did you escape from your keepers, boy?" he asked him in a serious manner.
Tommy shook his head, still grinning winsomely.
"That's a likely story," Tom muttered under his breath.
Hasaan took Tommy from Tom. "I'll take him back to his nanny. Mr. and Mrs. Jekyll are in the parlor."
Tom nodded and grinned as Tommy waved energetically over Hasaan's shoulder as they ascended the stairs. For such a small child, Tommy Jekyll seemed like he was overly intelligent. Not that it surprised Tom since he was the offspring of Henry and Mina. He walked down the hallway leading to the back of the house to where the hall opened up into the parlor. Mina and Henry looked much the same as they always had except for the fact that she was expecting again and the baby was due in a matter of weeks. They both embraced him as thought they had not seen him in a long time. He smiled, knowing that he had been here only a few days ago. Some things, he reasoned would probably never change and he was glad that these little things seemed like they would remain the same forever.
Tom, although a casual observer would never notice it, had changed much since their most recent adventures of over two years ago, Henry reflected, smiling as Tom loaded his tea with more milk and sugar than actual tea. He looked and dressed much the same with the exception of a pocket watch that his Aunt Polly had given him last Christmas. He was fairly quiet and subdued, looking for something that he had never found. Quick to adapt to British society, he was a favorite among the young ladies at social gatherings, but he always seemed distracted
Maybe, after all this time, Tom would stop seeming so lost. He had been slightly lost when Quartermain died and losing the man a second time must have dealt its blow of renewed guilt. And now that Skinner and Nemo were locked away somewhere, he seemed to be lost even more losing probably two men he counted among his closest friends. Hopefully, no more tragedy would strike someone who had every right to be so alive and happy.
Now they were sitting in Henry's study drinking copious amounts of brandy. Mina had gone upstairs to rest at the insistence of both men. With the study door succinctly locked, there was no fear of a staff member or Mina walking in on them. Tom was sitting behind his desk, with his feet up on the aforementioned desk. Henry, himself, was sitting at the piano.
"And then, we got hungry and decided to come home and not be pirates for now. We got to town and it seemed deserted. Everyone was the church and we snuck up into the choir loft and they were having our funeral. They thought we were dead instead of searching the little islands like they should have!"
Henry laughed as Tom finished the story of how the entire town had turned out for his and Huck's funeral when they weren't dead at all. Tom took another long drink of his brandy.
"However, there always was the time that we tried to help Jim escape, because we thought he was being held prisoner and we went through all the elaborate things people do in books, because I thought he ought to. Then we found out that he really was free and we didn't have to go all that trouble anyways. Of course," he paused. "I don't think Huck and Jim really understood what all the theatrics about that were." He sipped the brandy. "Of course that was when my uncle thought that I was Huck and Huck was me. Then Aunt Polly showed up and straightened him out."
"It's much more interesting than my childhood."
Tom looked shocked. "Oh come on! You must have done something adventurous."
Henry shook his head. "No. I was the normal upper middle class English child. Had a strong work ethic instilled from an early age and spent most of my time outside of school doing homework and reading."
"Were you an only child?"
He nodded. "Not because my parents wanted me to be. My mother died when I was still very small- I don't remember her. And then my father never remarried."
"Well, I don't remember my parents," Tom commiserated. "They died when I was a baby and I grew up with Aunt Polly. But then again, I had Huck and all the guys back home then and we were pretty much like brothers."
"I don't think I had any close friends until I got out of medical school."
It was Tom's turn to shake his head. "That's always hard." He paused again. "Say, did I ever tell you I was engaged to Becky when I was ten?"
"You were engaged to Becky when you were ten?" Henry smiled. He had heard about the inimitable Becky over the past years.
"Well, it was more of a game than anything else. She broke it off because she found I had been 'engaged' to another girl before her. That was when we ran away to become pirates. She was actually at our funeral." Tom smiled to himself.
"Did you see her when you were there at Christmas?"
The younger man slowly shook his head. "No. I was afraid to see her. I was afraid that she had gotten married since I went to Washington DC and then met you lot. Her father was always adamant that she had to make a respectable marriage and I don't think I was what he would have referred to as a respectable marriage."
"Two years ago, I don't think any of us would have been 'respectable marriage' material. We all had our own problems."
Tom smiled. "When I first joined the League, I thought I was the only normal person there, the only one with a clean background."
"You had as many problems as the rest of us, they just weren't as magnified as everything that was going on in our lives."
"Are you glad that Hyde is gone?"
Henry gave him a withering look. "What do you think? I am eternally grateful that that nightmarish period of my life is over. Hyde took too many people that were dear to me and I did not want him turning on Mina." He paused, thoughtfully. "She actually instigated the reintegration process. She's a smart one."
And he did know. Tom must have heard the story of how they killed Dracula and got Hyde to reintegrate dozens of times. And yet, he was always the attentive audience when that story got launched into again. Tom and Hasaan had never repeated the story of how the police took the Nautilus and how Nemo and Skinner ended up behind bars. No one wanted that story repeated and they all knew it subconsciously in their hearts. He could only hope that one day both of them would be released and the League could be something resembling whole once more.
"What I never found out," Tom continued. "Is how that rosary survived."
Henry laughed. "I don't know either. It didn't stop the Count because it hadn't been blessed by a priest and it had just a cross, not a crucifix. And then I transformed… I really can't say how it survived all of that."
"You know, I never thought you two would accomplish anything out there. I thought you'd be coming back to the Nautilus with nothing done."
Henry laughed. "And we got back to the Nautilus and found what we least expected."
"Well, if I was you, I certainly would not have expected that." He paused. "Although those police officers were rather stupid. Trying to starve us out… we would have all probably died of starvation first than come out of there… Nemo would have gone in an instant, he just did not want them taking his ship."
"Do you really blame him?"
"After the scare with M stealing his science… no."
Henry smiled and refilled his glass from the decanter sitting on a small table near one of his packed bookshelves. Life seemed so much better now that Hyde was gone- he had burned all the notebooks and journals on the formula and destroyed the remaining formula. Mina was no longer a vampire- no headaches from sunlight, no craving blood and no fear of church and religion anymore.
"I sent Becky a letter a while ago."
"Really?" Henry asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I asked her to marry me." Henry nearly choked on the sip of brandy he was taking, but managed to disguise it. "I got a letter from her saying that she was coming here as soon as she could and then I got a telegram. She's going to be here in two days."
"We're going to get married the day she gets here."
"Dear God… why didn't you say anything before?" Tom shrugged. Henry smiled. "Well, congratulations! When were you planning on telling us?"
Tom returned the smile. "Eventually."
Henry smiled. Perhaps, Tom would find what he wanted as well. Perhaps this marriage was the thing he needed to settle down. "Do you have anything planned other than the ceremony?"
Henry shook his head. "I suppose Mina and I can take care of that for you. I can't believe you didn't tell us sooner."
"Neither do I."The two men exchanged a grin and realized that perhaps this was the last piece they needed to pick up before they could leave their old lives completely behind.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading and reviewing 'Picking Up the Pieces.' As you have seen in my little disclaimer at the beginning of each chapter, LXG and all the characters and ideas associated with it are copyright of 20th Century Fox. However, the characters of Hasaan, Mrs. O'Malley, Father Fitzgibbon, Abby McCourtney and Tommy Jekyll belong to me. You may use them in your work if you like them, however I beseech you to ask for my permission and give me credit for creating them. I have several more ideas for LXG fics in the works, so keep an eye out for either a sequel to this one or a totally new one that I am cooking up. See you guys around the site! Cheers- Etcy