"We're creatures of the underworld. We can't afford to love."
- Harold Zidler
I don't know whether to hate you, or to love you.
Really, I don't.
All my life, I've felt unwanted and unneeded. My father would beat me, and my mother took off when I was five, leaving me alone with the bastard. I was sixteen when I finally got enough sense in me to run away. Took me long enough, that's what I say. At any rate, when I got out of the hellhole that was my home, I went onto the streets.
I hadn't been to school, ever, but I could read and write my own name, not much more. Because of that, I couldn't get a job, so I turned to petty crime picking pockets. It was a fairly good job, especially after I started preying on the rich Londoners and those tourists. You'd be amazed how much tourists carry around in their pockets.
Then, at age eighteen, I got wind of Griffin's research into invisibility. All of us in the slums wanted to get it, so we could become London's best thief. I remember those nights down at the Red Rat, me and my mates would imagine what would happen if one of us got the formula. By then I'd upgraded from picking pockets to also robbing homes, not that I hurt anyone.
Eventually, I was the one who got the serum when I broke into Griffin's lab. What happened there still gives me nightmares, sometimes. I had come in by a window along the hallway, and I broke the lock to the laboratory. When I entered, I saw the serum; no one was at home, so I took it. The pain was terrible. I passed out, and when I woke up hours later I couldn't see myself.
Just as I'd woken up and realized that I couldn't be seen — if only you knew the joy and fear I felt then — Griffin came back, wrapped in bandages. He'd also made himself invisible, and he was afraid I would go to the police, who were after him for some murder or whatnot. I never really found out. At any rate, he was so afraid I'd tell that he attacked me, and we fought it out, in the process upsetting one of burners that I had lighted so I could see, when I first got in.
Naturally the whole place caught fire. Sawyer didn't know it, but I was terrified of the flames when the tank-man had come after him.
I managed to get away from Griffin, who died in the blaze. During out fight he had tried to convince me to join him, the invisible man the first, and we could rule the world together. He was mad, I swear; the serum had gotten to his head and given him delusions of absolute power. He'd also told me how the people in south England had treated him, and I knew that life would never be the same again.
So I died what I suppose was the best thing to do, at that time; I "disappeared", so to speak. My mates still think that good ol' Rodney had died in the fire. I was careful never to tell anyone my last name when I hit the streets, because I was afraid my father would come after me and the nightmare would start all over again. I went into hiding, and I only emerged half a year later. It had taken me two whole months to figure out how to use my hands, hands which I couldn't see, and even longer to learn how to shave again.
I had been hurt in the fire, and I wandered through the snowy streets before a woman found me. She was relatively young, maybe late twenties. She lived with her blind father, and she took me in. Everyone called her Beth.
Beth was a wonderful woman. She was kind and gentle and sweet, and everyone loved her. She was great with the kids, and worked as a washing lady for one of the wealthy families, the Sinclairs. She knew what I was, but since her father was blind, we lied to her that I worked for the Sinclairs, and that I would be staying with them until I could find lodging of my own. He didn't mind, and I spent afternoons with him discussing current affairs and playing chess and whatnot. Still, I was a thief, and I went back to the street gangs and crime.
Eventually, I fell in love with Beth. I never knew if she loved me, because I had joined a gang, and insulted the wrong people. They found out that I was living with Beth, and one day, when I was out with her father, they attacked the house; they burned everything down. I was devastated; Beth had been my love, my life, all I was living for. I hunted down the gang who had done this, I killed them all; murdered them in revenge. It was justice, and I believe that to this day.
Her father died soon after her, and I was left alone in the world — again.
So I let myself become a thief again, joined gangs, left them, made enemies and all that jazz. I was young, and I was brash; much like how Sawyer is now, not that I blame him. Life didn't really matter to me then, I suppose, and I drank and I gambled. I made a name for myself, true; but that was because I had pulled off daring thefts and got away scot-free.
Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years; before I know it it's 1899, the end of a century and the beginning of a new one. M — more like, Sanderson Reed — found me, offered me a place in the League, telling me that they had an antidote. By then I had been wishing I was visible again, so I could see my face, see what I looked like; I'd forgotten after so many years. Hell, I wanted to see myself so I could look myself in the eye when I killed myself.
Of course I jumped at the chance; if there was an antidote, I was willing to anything for it.
And then there was you.
The first time I saw you, I was reminded of Beth. Red hair and green eyes were two traits the both of you shared, and you were hardened by life — just like Beth. "Gentlemen thief," I had told Nemo and Allan, but I had made it up the day before. Somehow, "thief" didn't sound very nice, so I figured that since I was joining a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, why not add a "gentlemen" at the front?
I'm very glad I gave myself a new title, because when I saw you, I fell in love. I'm not sure if I fell in love with you, or I'd fallen in love with someone I was convinced was a reincarnation of Beth.
Time passes quickly, doesn't it, Mina? All of a sudden I'm accused of being a spy for the villain and following a turncoat of an immortal while Venice is blowing up. I don't think I need to tell anyone how the flames felt, much less you; I don't know how to put it in words, except it is an experience no human should have to go through.
I didn't want to die, no; I wanted to live, so I could win you over. I had seen the looks you gave Sawyer, and I was determined to make you love me. Why do you think I followed Gray in the first place, risked my neck in M's factory? I wanted to impress you. I wanted you to appreciate me.
You made me feel wanted and needed, Mina, and I love you for that; but then you turned me away and chose Sawyer instead. I hate you for hurting me.
I hate you, but I love you.
Now we're waiting for word from Mycroft Holmes, as to whether we're officially a League. I walk around, and I see the looks Sawyer gives you and vice versa. I'm not angry, no; in fact, I'm happy for you two. Recently you had dinner together, alone. I was there, in the corner of the restaurant, watching...just watching.
I'm hurting, Mina, but I'm not angry or jealous or upset. In fact, I don't know what to feel right now.
I can't love you, Mina, even if you had acknowledged my advances. Beth had thought me that because I am a thief, because I am part of the underworld, I can't afford to love, or whoever it is I love will be hurt. No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, the woman I love will suffer in some way or another.
All I know is that I can't bare to be around you any more. Trust me, I bear you or Sawyer no ill will. In fact, I wish you two all the best life and love can offer. I hope you two get married and, in a few year's time, have tiny tykes running around causing chaos and general terror.
I don't much things, besides my hat and coat, and those can go anywhere and to anyone; I don't care. I don't have a house — I was evicted years ago — nor do I have any kin or kilt that I know of. Basically, all I have is what I wear.
I do have one request, though; bury me in Walthamstow R.C. cemetery, next to Beth's grave; you'll find the tombstone in the corner, near the only mausoleum. Her father is there, and so is she; I want to be with her.
I don't know how to end off....I suppose it is with my best wishes for all.
Skinner folded the letter quietly and put down his pen, putting the paper into an envelope. Granted, his handwriting wasn't the neatest in the world, but it could be read.
He had bought a candle from the old woman at the cemetery, where he had visited Beth earlier that day. Lighting it, he used the wax to seal the envelope. It already had a "To Mina" on its front, and now everything was done. He placed the envelope and its precious contents on the table, where he was sure Mina would see it.
Skinner sighed, and opened the drawer. He pulled out the revolver. Skinner had bought it on the black market; it was an old model, rusty, but it could fire, and that was all that mattered. It had one bullet inside. Skinner checked the rounds inside, just in case something had happened to the bullet inside. It was still there, which was good.
The thief regarded the weapon, and felt no nervousness or regret. He sighed again. He knew Tom and Mina were out on the conning tower, and Jekyll was somewhere in the Infirmary. Nemo would be on the bridge, making sure his Lady was being run properly.
Skinner held the gun up to his head, closing his eyes.
He pulled the trigger.
There was a bang, then....