Disclaimer: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie is copyright of 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended.
GODS AND GAMBLERS
By Etcetera Kit
Chapter Three: Without Your Love
If I could travel far, if I could touch the stars, what would it mean without your love?
He did not have to send the message the next morning or even try to ring them. Tom Sawyer was on his front doorstep as he was coming home from the clinic. In fact, Henry nearly tripped over him when going up the stairs. Tom had been sitting on the top step.
"Must you look like a beggar on my front stoop?" Henry asked after regaining his balance. Tom just grinned, blonde hair disheveled and brown eyes sparkling. Henry rolled his eyes at the younger man and made to open the front door. Tom had a job working at a bank—and one could never tell it by his attire. He might have been properly dressed at work, but of the proper suit top the only parts remaining were the shirt and vest. The typical long black overcoat accompanied.
Henry opened the front door and Tom followed him inside the house. As he hung up his coat and hat, Tom did the same thing as if he lived there. And the young man might as well have lived there—he was over often enough and most of the time without an invitation.
"Dare I ask where Becky is?"
The signature grin followed. "At home—resting—like you told her to."
Becky, Tom's young wife, was several months pregnant and although the baby was not due until Christmas Henry had told her to get as much rest as possible. It was the young couple's first child after four years of marriage. In a way, it made him slightly jealous since he and Mina had Tommy after their first year of marriage.
Tom stuck his hands in his pockets, his suspenders trailing along his sides instead of on his shoulders where they should have been. Henry rolled his eyes. Some things never change and there was no point in telling Tom that most men did not dress as he did. They walked towards the parlor. Hasaan greeted them with a bow.
"Is Mina home yet?" Henry asked the butler.
Hasaan shook his head. "Not yet. I believe she said she may have to stay a bit later for the faculty meeting."
Henry nodded. The girls were in the parlor, giggling inanely. Tommy was probably upstairs either reading or creating yet another cowboys and Indians war—making himself scarce around all these women. He and Tom walked in the parlor. Henry tried to keep his mouth from dropping open. The girls were sitting around the coffee table drinking the extraordinarily sweetened tea—made so with lots of honey and sugar. Nemo was sitting in one of the armchairs smiling at their antics. Catherine and Mary Anne—the twins—looked the same as always with their identical dark red hair and blue eyes. They had managed to keep their dresses semi-neat and clean. Rosemary was her normal wreck with her hair coming out of the bow and one prominent dirt streak on her dress.
And the captain seemed to be enjoying this.
The housekeeper came through the side door of the kitchen and handed Nemo a cup of tea. The smile on her face was enough to tell him that she was sparing him from drinking the girls' tea. Then of course, Tom found nothing wrong with the tea that the girls drank. The housekeeper then began to shoo the girls away. When they began to protest, Nemo intervened.
"Ladies, it has been a pleasure taking tea with you, but I am afraid we must attend to boring adult matters now. You would be much more amused in the nursery."
Amazingly, none of the girls had a protest. "Who are they and what have they done with your real daughters?" Tom whispered in his ear.
Henry stifled a laugh, watching the girls insist on giving Nemo a hug and kiss on the cheek before they allowed the housekeeper to herd them upstairs. The captain placed his cup of tea on a small table next to the armchair and got to his feet slowly to greet Tom. Henry wanted to know where that limp came from. Tom, however, prevented him from doing much walking and crossed the room to accept the captain's embrace.
"Glad to see you out," Tom said with a grin.
Nemo gave a rueful smile. "It is good to be out."
"Enjoy tea with the terrible trio?"
The captain just shook his head. "They are children and have a right to act so. It is a tragedy that they want to grow up before their time."
"Shall we adjourn to my study?" Henry asked and the three of them went into the door leading to the study. He locked the door behind them and poured generous glasses of brandy. Once everyone was settled in a chair, the conversation began.
"Hasaan invited me and Becky for dinner tonight," Tom informed him.
Henry just shook his head. "Everyone runs my life except for me," he muttered.
Tom laughed. Nemo looked slightly puzzled. "How so?"
"Oh, Hasaan runs the house his way down to the dinner invitations and the housekeeper encourages him. And my wife also runs my life."
Tom snickered. "And when a problem comes up that they don't want to fuss with, they dust him off and prop him up in the parlor to deal with it."
He had to agree. "That's accurate," he replied dryly. "Although you can't say that things at your house are much better between Becky and Mrs. Devine."
The grin never left the young American's face. "Yes, my housekeeper and my wife do have a penchant for rearranging my life without informing me." Tom raised his glass. "Here's to our wives running our lives!"
"I'll drink to that!" Henry agreed, taking in a gulp of brandy.
Nemo just smiled and shook his head. "Ah, the things I missed out on by not having a family."
"Don't worry," Tom said, patting Nemo on the back, "You can be a part of our families."
Nemo coughed on the brandy. "I'm overjoyed," he replied.
Henry shook his head. "So do I dare ask how you found out that Nemo was here?"
"I will have you know that I saw the carriage," Tom said acting like he was highly affronted.
"You're a bad liar," Henry muttered.
"All right, all right," Tom conceded with a sour look on his face. "Your housekeeper told my housekeeper when they were at the market this morning and then my housekeeper told my wife and my wife told me." He paused. "And all of this happened before I even went to work."
The three of them laughed. A soft knock came on the study door. Henry stood up, unlocked the door and opened it. Mina came in—and did not look surprised to see the three of them in the study.
"I have been informed that dinner will be at seven," she said. She gave Tom a sharp look. "Shouldn't you go back across the square and escort your wife over here properly."
Tom shrugged. "What for? She's walked across the square by herself before."
Mina glared at him and picked up a book sitting on Henry's desk. She then threw the book squarely at Tom's nose. Luckily enough for him, he ducked it. The book fell to the floor beyond Tom's chair with a soft 'thud.'
"All right! I'm going!" Tom muttered and stood up, leaving the study.
Nemo got slowly to his feet and gave them a slight bow. "I will retire to my quarters now to dress for dinner."
Then Henry and Mina were alone in the study. He smiled. "We were just talking about how our wives run our lives." He walked over to the book on the floor, picked up and closed it while smoothing a few wrinkled pages. "How many times must I ask you not to throw my books at Sawyer?"
Mina just looked at him. "Then do not put your books in easy reach when that boy does or says something stupid."
Henry just continued to smile. He pushed the door to the study shut with his foot and pulled Mina into his arms. She returned the smile and settled against his chest. "Why do I have the nasty feeling that things will never be quiet around here?"
He laughed. "Because they never will be?" He gently lifted her chin with his fingers and planted a quick but firm kiss on her lips.
"You can do better than that," she admonished. He grinned and pulled her into a searing lip lock, parting her lips with his tongue and exploring the mouth he loved so. A slight pink flush appeared in her cheeks. "Must we wait until tonight?" she whispered.
He quickly looked at his pocket watch. It was quarter past six. "We have some time until dinner. How quickly can you dress?"
She narrowed her eyes. "The question is not how quickly I can dress—it is how quickly I can undress."
He laughed and took her hand. They moved as quickly as they dared to their bedroom where he locked the door behind them. It was definitely going to be a productive forty-five minutes before dinner.
Becky, as it turns out, happened to be a sweet, golden haired lady with an easy temperament. Nemo found it hard to believe that she actually rearranged much of Tom's life—that was probably his housekeeper. The childhood sweetheart of Tom Sawyer did live up to the expectations gleaned from the letters. Her blue eyes sparkled and she just smiled whenever Tom went on and on about something irrelevant. And she was indeed with child.
"I should set up practice targets in the house," Tom said as they were all seated at the table before dinner was served. Present at dinner was Tom and Becky, Henry and Mina and himself. Tom was referring to keeping in shape in regards to his skills with firearms.
"Tom," Becky said, barely masking her smile. "Remember the time you shot one of Mrs. Devine's good feather pillows? Because you thought it was a burglar? And then she tried to skin you alive. I don't think shooting in the house would be a good idea."
Tom nodded. "And there's still a bullet hole in that chair."
Becky just shook her head—the smile becoming more and more evident.
When Tom and Becky arrived, she seemed extraordinarily pleased to be meeting him. Her voice was soft and tinged with the slight accent that Sawyer had. "Tom's told me so much about you, I feel like I already know you," she had said.
He wondered what would make a woman just leave her family and friends and everything she had ever known to come to a foreign country to marry a man. But Becky seemed like she was happy—and she got on well with their housekeeper, something he imagined was not easy to do. His things from the prison had arrived earlier that day—while there was not much that was of use to him, there was the journal. He had only made that one entry that tried to catalogue where the captain's log from the Nautilus would have ended. Smiling, he had put it in a drawer in his quarters. No one now would be interested in it—and he had left much out. But someone would and right now she was only three.
Hasaan had taken the liberty of rearranging his life for the next week. His butler had insisted on scheduling an appointment with a tailor—the one they used when in port in London who was from India and used only fabric from India—to be measured for new clothes. He then wanted Nemo to accompany him to find furnishings for their apartment behind the house. Nemo assumed that they would be going only to the best places to find such furnishings and he could imagine what Hasaan had in mind—rich Oriental or animal skin rugs, wooden furniture with fine upholstery and elaborate carvings, paintings all the way from India, small statues of the gods and many other things. It was a way to turn the apartment into a room from a palace of a prince in India, a way to forget that they really dwelled in London. Hasaan had also made noises about going to get his possessions from the storage area where the Nautilus was in dry dock.
He smiled at the spirited exchange between Sawyer and Jekyll about who had their life rearranged by females the most.
And it was at that moment that the Jekylls' housekeeper chose to bring in the dinner. Some kind of chicken dish. Hasaan came around and served everyone wine. Nemo almost wanted to tell these people to stop treating him like visiting royalty—it was something that he no longer deserved. But he knew, deep down, that these people were happy to see him.
Nemo raised an eyebrow at the chicken. Becky caught the expression and grinned. In an undertone, she told him that it was the housekeeper's special chicken recipe. The chickens had been marinating in plum wine sauce since last night and they were filled with her special rice and nut stuffing. She also added that she had taken the recipe from Mrs. Devine and altered it some.
"I also hear she's made some kind of chocolate cake for dessert and that woman never makes desert," Becky said softly.
"Surely she does not have diminished wages and she is given ample funds with which to purchase food?" Nemo was bit taken aback. It was a servant's duty to make sure that their employer's wants were met. And if a family one was in the employ of wanted desert than they should get it on a regular basis.
Becky stifled a laugh. "For certain, but that woman is a miser if I ever saw one. I keep telling Mina to fire her and get a new one."
"She seemed friendly enough."
"She does, until you get to know her. There is a reason that she is not the nanny to the children." Becky shook her head. "Mrs. Devine already said that she would work as a nanny once the baby was born." She laughed. "I'll have to see about that. She is a wonderful housekeeper and it would be hard to replace her."
"I must meet Mrs. Devine."
"Oh, she'll probably invite you over for dinner soon."
They turned back to the main conversation and they were talking about—Skinner?
"He's got himself a one month stretch this time," Tom was saying. "Couldn't post the bail because they are not letting him out until his time is up."
"I don't understand why you continue to help that man," Becky said, obviously not a huge advocate of Skinner's presence.
"He's a friend and he's invisible."
Becky rolled her eyes. "Invisible or no, he's a rotten house guest."
Mina stifled a laugh and the two women exchanged a knowing glance. Nemo refrained from shaking his head—Mina never had a great liking for Skinner. And the invisible man did have a penchant for annoying her.
"So are you going to house him when he gets out?" Henry asked.
Tom shrugged. "I guess so. And it would only be for a few days," he added quickly upon seeing Becky's disgusted look.
"You said that last time and he was there for a month!" Becky glared at him, her pretty eyes becoming daggers. Tom looked sheepish. "Let him go live with that girlfriend of his or let him go to a poor house or something!"
"He could go to his girlfriend's house. The only trouble is she thinks he's dead."
Becky rolled her eyes. There were some things that Nemo was never destined to understand. Rodney Skinner was a self-proclaimed gentleman thief and he still had his hand out for what anyone was willing to give him. Nemo could attest to the fact that if a thief was careful, he could live quite comfortably. It would be interesting to see the invisible man again when he was out of the local jail.When dinner was over and the housekeeper had cleared the dishes, she brought in a large German chocolate cake and began to serve it. Henry looked mildly surprised—as though it was an unusual occurrence. Becky was right. He would have to talk to Hasaan about interviewing for a new housekeeper while the butler was so busy rearranging his life. And there was no reason that he could not step into the 'rearranging someone else's life' mode for a while. It would fill the time before Skinner made an appearance. If he could ever get out of jail.
To Be Continued...
Author's Note: Wow! It's been a while since I updated this story. I was going through my files and found a chapter of this that I had not posted. Here it is (was) for anyone interested to enjoy. I'm not entirely sure when the next update will be. I'd like to finish this story and hope to get back to it in the coming months. I can't promise anything. Thanks to anyone and everyone who's reviewed. Your support means a lot to me. -Etcy