This is the final chapter! Thanks and many hugs to the wonderful Ten Mara for beta reading this! A true gem!
I'd like to thank all those who have reviewed this story! Hope this ending pleases you!
This chapter is dedicated to the Tazinator...you will be missed!
The minute Quatermain entered the parlor, King Umbopa rose from the settee and greeted the old adventurer with a large smile. "I cannot express how good it is to see you face to face," the African said as he grasped Allan by the shoulders, "and now my spirit can rest more peacefully knowing you and the ones you care about are safe."
"You mean to say ol' Allan cares about the rest of us?" Skinner quipped as he walked in with Tom beside him.
"More than he wants to admit," King Umbopa replied as Quatermain glared back at the invisible man to be quiet, "but my old friend is not the only one who has been hiding their true feelings."
Seeing the League members fidget nervously from the comment, Majeel hurried to ease the uncomfortable atmosphere. "You all are connected to each other in some way, and that is why 'together' you were able to defeat Twazul."
"Together?" Mina questioned bitterly. "We were under Twazul's spell, and poor Tom was left to deal with that horrible man by himself."
"True, but even your fears could not stop the connection to your youngest member."
Dorian rolled his eyes. "Enough of all this mystical double speak," the immortal said with irritation. "Why was Sawyer inside my mind? I felt pain, and then I collapsed upon a dirty street; in front of ruffians no less."
"Me too," Skinner chimed in. "I felt Tom hurting as real as if it were me."
"I also felt young Sawyer's pain before everything went black," Nemo supplied, amid Jekyll's and Mina's astonished admissions of the same occurrence.
Tom glanced down at his wrist, eyeing the cut he had received when Skinner freed him back at Sir Henry's estate. "Twazul wasn't allowed to hurt me," the young spy said in realization. "When he touched my cut, it caused me pain. Is that why he lost his powers, and the others were set free?"
With a soft chuckle, Majeel shook his head, and pointed to the settee. "First, young one, you must sit and rest yourself. All is not healed inside your body." When Sawyer looked to argue the point, the tribal priest gestured more firmly. "Sit first, then your answers."
"Do as he says, Thomas," Allan agreed, trying to gently steer the American in the direction of the furniture. He smiled when he heard the audible sigh coming from his adopted son's mouth. Majeel's order would be reluctantly obeyed. The witch doctor then motioned for the remaining League members to follow suit before he would speak another word.
Majeel turned to Sawyer and addressed his question when everyone had found a place to sit. "Twazul was not allowed to harm you, but you had agreed to be his prisoner. When he touched your injured wrist, he was not breaking the spell."
"That's what Twazul meant when he said some smaller details would be overridden when I agreed to his deal," Tom recalled. "Then why did he lose his powers?"
"Your friends freed themselves when they felt your pain," the African mystic replied, his black eyes sweeping over the others. "Because of my spell, the link to your teammates was heightened, and when they willingly broke Twazul's hold, it was too much for even his powers to control. There was a psychic explosion, causing your friends to fall comatose briefly, and for you to feel them inside your mind, experiencing what they were feeling."
"So young Sawyer was the catalyst to breaking free of that monster's grip?" Nemo surmised. "Is that why we dreamt of killing him before reaching England's shore?"
"Yes," King Umbopa acknowledged. "Twazul was trying to shame you so deeply through your fears that you would not react when your youngest needed you most."
Rodney scratched at his bald head in bewilderment. "Huh? Tom was the one under the spell of protection, he didn't need us."
"But he did. By conceding to be Twazul's captive, your teammate was placing his life in mortal danger. When you all felt the pain, it caused you to forget your own fears, and to instead fear for him. Twazul was using most of his mind powers to keep all of you his pawns, so you all subconsciously felt the evil he had planned...and acted when he made contact with the young one's injured wrist."
"That's ridiculous!" Dorian huffed. "Skinner and I weren't under any mind power...I know I didn't 'sense' anything about Twazul's evil towards that American whelp."
"Hey now," Skinner argued with the immortal, "you said so yourself you didn't feel Twazul's presence in your mind anymore after we woke up." Tipping his head towards Umbopa, the invisible rogue smirked. "And the king bloke said it was all subconscious anyhow. We wouldn't have know it."
"Do you even know what 'subconscious' means?" Gray snarled, inwardly fuming at being bested by- in his view- a sub-species of human.
"You obviously don't," Rodney shot back.
"Inside my mind, I saw Thomas lying hurt at that park," Quatermain spoke up, giving a gentle tap upon his adopted son's left shoulder, "and it was exactly where I did find him. Was that left over from the mind control?"
Smiling warmly towards Allan and Tom, Majeel shook his gnarled staff in the old hunter's direction. "Your senses concerning the young one were indeed heightened, but haven't you always known deep inside when he was in danger?"
"Yes!" the fellow League members said in unison, a slight undercurrent of exasperation evident.
"I'm not that bloody bad," Allan said defensively.
"Yes, you are!" they all resounded again.
Sawyer grinned at the adventurer's expression and following grunt of indignation. But his face soon sobered as he asked the question that had been in the forefront of his mind since he found out about the spell of protection placed upon him.
"Mr. Majeel," the youthful spy asked in a quiet tone, "why was I the one picked?"
"I'd like to know as well," Dorian chimed in snidely. "I would have made a better choice since I couldn't be killed."
The African mystic shook his head emphatically. "You would be my last choice," he replied to Dorian with a touch of disdain. "You would only think of the young one's welfare because of yourself. Your other teammates would not have faired as well."
"Yeah, and dreaming of whacking off ol' Dorian wouldn't have caused anyone to have a moment of shame," Skinner quipped, receiving a healthy dose of laughter from the others in response, and a scowl of contempt from the immortal.
King Umbopa sat himself in a chair next to Sawyer, and looked the blonde agent directly in the eyes. "You are the one who is the main link of this group; the one who keeps them together."
"But isn't that Da--, I mean Allan?" Tom questioned. "Hell, there's nothin' extraordinary 'bout me."
"I would disagree strongly," Nemo spoke out, winking when he saw Sawyer's amazed look.
"Even Hyde tolerates you for the most part," Jekyll said with a smile, "and that is no small feat."
"I just ignore the little runt, and let you deal with all the incessant enthusiasm as punishment," Hyde grumbled inside the doctor's mind.
"Your drive and optimism have given us 'twisted so and so's' a reason for fighting on, and to care about why we do," Mina added warmly.
"Cor, I know I wouldn't have near the fun if I didn't have you to help in mischief making, mate," the rogue thief said to Tom with a tip of his black hat.
"And you know how I feel," Allan said to his new son, his face aglow with paternal pride. He gave Sawyer's hair a light tousle when he saw the blush forming on the young man's face.
"C'mon Dorian," Skinner goaded, "say something nice to the kid."
Refusing to look over at his charge, Gray mumbled, "At least you haven't gotten us both killed...yet."
Tom rolled his eyes and smirked in the direction of the British aristocrat. "That made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside," he said sarcastically. When he met the faces of his other teammates, his appreciation for their comments was sincere. "Thanks," he spoke again, his gaze finally resting on Allan. "I know all of you sure mean a lot to me..."
"Now it is time to rest," Majeel said suddenly, standing in front of Sawyer and waving his wooden staff. Instantly the blonde American went slack in deep sleep, but Quatermain and Umbopa caught his body, easing it back into the settee.
"What was that for?" Jekyll asked nervously, taken aback by the abruptness of the mystic's action.
"I wanted my full powers back," the witch doctor replied simply.
"The sleep will also aid in his recovery," King Umbopa added. "He will not awaken until tomorrow."
"Oh, he isn't going to like that," Quatermain muttered, recalling how eager Tom was to be finally out of his bed for more than fifteen minutes at a time. Still, the father side of him was grateful that the boy would at least be getting another day of healing sleep.
Majeel chuckled as he raised his staff over his head. "He won't remember any of what we are about to say, nor will anyone else but you, old friend." Before the renown hunter could question further, the rest of the League began to drift off into sleep.
"It is for the best," the African mystic explained. "They came in contact with a force they aren't in tune with, and it connected with their inner fears. It might've destroyed what progress they made if it was allowed to stay in their minds."
"Was Thomas harmed?" Allan asked worriedly. "The spell of protection should have shielded him, right?"
"The only reason the youngest could deal with the onslaught of the mental explosion was because he has been 'touched' by Quatermain blood. He had everyone Twazul controlled inside his mind at once, and even with the spell of protection, it would've destroyed him if he wasn't a part of you."
"Another reason he was chosen," Umbopa interjected with a smile. "You and Africa are one, and so your 'son' reaps some of the benefit of that blessing as well."
"The blood transfusion," Allan remembered, thinking back to a year and a half ago. "Thomas nearly bled to death... I couldn't lose him, so I offered some of my blood to save his life."
"Offered?" Majeel huffed good-naturedly. "More like demanded."
"You think that is what made him your son?" the king countered. "With your dying breath you called him that, and Africa allowed you to come back to him. You had an instant bond with this young man, and that was no coincidence. He needed you as much as you needed him."
Sighing heavily, the adventurer shook his head, and glanced over at the slumbering Secret
Service agent. "You were right back on the Nautilus. I was afraid, and refusing to accept the truth. My male pride did nothing to protect my boy in the end."
The African monarch gestured to Tom's slack form. "Your bravado to battle Twazul alone was more out of fear for him," he said kindly. "It is no secret what this young one means to you, and your willingness to protect him. I was trying to get you to see that by denying your connection, you were going to place him in greater danger."
"I understand that now, Umbopa, in fact, I see a lot of things clearly."
"Did Harry's presence aid in your healing?" the witch doctor asked, surprising Allan at his knowledge of the ghostly visit.
"Was that because of the mental energy too?"
Majeel nodded. "Yes, your mind was more receptive, and it allowed Harry to reach out to you. Now your spirit can rest from the war of guilt and sadness, and begin to focus on the future with your new family."
Quatermain glanced around the room and had to grin. They were quite the family, and it dawned on him how blessed he was to have them...even a tinge of warmth towards Gray filtered in.
Rising from his chair, the explorer grasped the African king's forearm in kinship. "Thank you again, Umbopa."
"It is my pleasure, my old friend," Umbopa replied, returning the grasp. "Once again you have come to Africa's aid, and to mine. If Twazul's plans had been realized, no one could have stood against him."
"I think that honor goes to Thomas," Quatermain said with a fond look in the direction of the spy. "It still amazes me what that boy is capable of."
"He's like his father," Majeel said deliberately, patting the old adventurer on the back. After shaking hands in parting, the mystic turned to the king. "We should be going. It is a long trip back home."
"I was hoping you both could stay until after..." Allan spoke hesitantly. Seeing their curious looks, he cleared his throat. "I'm officially adopting Thomas as soon as he is able to make the trip into London, and I was planning on having a bit of a small party...to celebrate."
"We would be honored," Umbopa said with a big smile. "I have long prayed for this day, and now that it is finally here, I would not miss it!"
"I'll have the staff get two rooms ready, and send for your belongings at wherever you've been staying at." Pausing, the famous Briton rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Bloody hell, I'm going to throw a 'party'. Can you imagine that?"
"Amazing, this coming from a man who only a year and a half ago was going to spend the rest of his days moping in a chair, and coddling a Winchester rifle," Majeel teased, recalling Quatermain's self-imposed exile when he had returned to the living after the fight with Moriarty.
"You should have smacked me up side of the head with that rifle for being a such pig-headed arse," Allan replied with a chuckle. Turning his attention to the young man who had left him the weapon, he bent down and gently scooped up the sleeping American into his arms, taking great care not to cause any undue damage to Tom's battered torso. "I'd better put him to bed if the lad's going to be sleeping for quite some time," he offered in explanation. "Don't think he'll be getting there himself in his condition."
King Umbopa hurried to Allan's aid. "Let me help you..."
"Thank you, but no," the explorer declined politely. "I've done this before, and believe me, I've changed a few things around here to make it easy on myself." Fully experiencing the weight in his arms, Quatermain reneged, his body picking that moment to remind him of his age. "I would appreciate some help opening the elevator, and making sure the boy's bedroom door is open as well."
"Consider it done." Umbopa laughed and walked in front of his old acquaintance.
When the two men had left the pallor, Majeel turned his attention towards the other League members. He waved his wooden staff above his head. "You will awake with no memory of the evil Twazul had placed inside your minds," the mystic spoke out loud, "but you will feel an inner peace for having finally faced your demons...and winning."
The tribal witch doctor smiled in satisfaction as he watched the odd assortment of 'heroes' awaken slowly. Despite their pasts, they were able to unite. And all it took was for a young, irrepressible Secret Service Agent to force himself into their midst.
It was all as it should be.
Captain Good shook Sawyer's hand vigorously as he prepared to leave the party that celebrated Tom's formal adoption. "I can't thank you enough, lad, for all you've done," the former Navy man said warmly. He cast a look in his old friend's direction before adding, "but anyone who could get Quatermain to give a damn again has to be special. If you hadn't told Ima about how to help me beat the mind control and then you stopping Twazul for good, I would have lost everyone and everything I held dear."
Tom felt heat rise to his face as he found himself stumped for a response. What the hell could you say after that? "Uhm, glad I was able to help," the spy said sheepishly.
"Help?" Sir Henry's voice bellowed behind the captain. "You did more than that!" The nobleman engulfed the startled young man into a hug. "Welcome to the family, Tom," he said cheerfully, releasing the fortunately now healed American agent. "Don't hesitate to ask for anything."
Winking conspiratorially in Allan's direction, Sawyer found his voice. "Thanks, Sir Henry," he said sincerely, "and I do have one request..."
"Name it, Tom! I'll do all I can to help."
"Could you please tell me sometime what really happened? Y'know, King Solomon's mine...?"
"Thomas..." Quatermain warned his son.
"Sir Henry and I would be more than glad to fill you in on all the details," Good responded to the blonde spy. "I'm afraid our old friend doesn't have much patience for talking about his exploits."
"I'd really appreciate it," Sawyer said with a big smile. "I want to know as much as you can tell me."
King Umbopa and Majeel walked up and joined the small group. The African monarch grasped Tom's right hand and enclosed it between his own two hands, giving it a quick shake. "Whenever you are in my homeland, please know that you are considered a valued friend. Nothing within our power will be denied Allan Quatermain's son," he said in parting.
"Even information," Majeel quipped, smacking Allan on the upper arm. "Your father has been remiss in his duty of setting the record straight on what he has done for Africa."
"What bloody is this?" the adventurer demanded. "Pick on Quatermain day?" A smattering of laughter erupted from the other men at the comment. Allan folded his arms across his chest and feigned an irritated frown.
A movement in the corner of his vision caught Tom's attention, and bowing respectfully to the African king, the youthful agent hurried to shake Majeel's hand before investigating. "I hate to be rude'n all, but I think someone needs help." Everyone exchanged astonished looks as Sawyer rushed off, wondering what could have caused the young man such instant consternation.
Tom came up quickly alongside Mrs. Jones, who was struggling with the weight of her load, and eased the silver tray stacked full with dishes from the startled woman's hands. He even went a step further by asking the head housekeeper to retire for the evening since she looked exhausted from the daunting task of getting a party ready in two days.
When Mrs. Jones gently rebuffed Sawyer's request, the young spy planted a small kiss to the older woman's cheek for added effect, and asked her again to rest...for him. Without a word she obeyed, her cheeks flushed from Tom's concern...and his kiss.
After watching the masterful manipulation of his loyal housekeeper, Allan smiled to himself as he walked his old comrades to the front door. That boy of his certainly was a cheeky one!
"You did good, Allan," Sir Henry grinned, tipping his head in the direction Sawyer had hurried off to. "At first I wondered how this youngster could claim to know you since he had the story of our adventure so twisted beyond truth. I realize now he did it to get me riled up enough to fight back from Twazul's control."
Quatermain groaned under his breath. "How bad was it?" he made himself ask.
"For starters, he had King Umbopa's names mixed up. Tom said his commoner name was Umbopa, but his royal name was Ignosi. Worse yet, I was the great warrior in battle, where you, old boy, was practically quivering in fear."
His mouth tightening into a thin line, the famed hunter held back his fury to stop himself from breaking something in frustration. Damn that novel on King Solomon's mines!
Umbopa threw his head back and laughed. "Your son does have quite the imagination!"
"No, H. Rider Haggard does," Skinner chimed in, ambling up to the group of old acquaintances. "He wrote a bunch of stories on our beloved leader's exploits." An invisible hand lifted a glass filled with scotch towards Quatermain in a gesture of salute. "Mighty entertaining reading too. I laughed so hard I almost had an accident."
Giving the paint covered face of the rogue thief a threatening glower, Quatermain snapped in irritation, "Guests or not, I will kick your bloody arse if you speak another word in the next five minutes!"
"Not another 'my boot up your ass' threat again," Sawyer mocked in an overly dramatic fashion as he retook his spot beside his father. "You're gettin' a bit repetitious."
"Hmph! This coming from a brash youngster who overplayed the charm just a few moments ago?" the adventurer scoffed good-naturedly. "That kiss to Mrs. Jones' cheek was a bit over the top."
Tom just winked and smiled. "You oughta be damn glad I'm so adorable. If it wasn't for the fact this party was for me, I think she might've thunked you on the noggin with a skillet for askin' her to put together a shindig in less than three days."
"It had nothing to do with you, boy. I'll have you know that I had quiet the reputation for charming any woman into doing my bidding," Quatermain replied with a bit of bravado.
"Oh really?" Mina quipped from behind the men, with Captain Nemo, Dorian, and Dr. Jekyll joining her. "How did you achieve that? Point to the woman and say 'mine', before dragging her off by the hair?"
Unfazed by the snickers he heard about him, the famous hunter turned and looked at the vampiric beauty. "You're safe, Mrs. Harker. I'm not the same man I was back then, otherwise you'd know not to question." He smirked when she chose to roll her eyes in reply.
Mrs. Harker allowed the comments to pass...this time...since there were guests present.
His eyes growing big, Sawyer glanced at his father's old friends. "That was never mentioned in any of the stories! I'd like to hear how he'd managed that!" he asked eagerly.
Despite all the harrowing adventures the five older men shared together, their faces showed panic at the idea of sharing the risque stories of Quatermain's charm over the ladies with Tom.
"You look tired, Thomas," Allan hurried to say, giving his acquaintances a meaningful glance to stay quiet on the subject...forever. Damn his big mouth for bringing up the subject! "Isn't it past your bedtime?"
"Huh?" Sawyer looked at his father in confusion.
Hastily mumbling a chant under his breath, Majeel swept his staff in the direction of the League. Instantly they all froze in suspended animation, with Quatermain being the only one untouched by the spell.
"Memory erase?" Allan guessed, stepping away from his group of heroes. "We better leave before they snap out of it!" Pausing at the old witch doctor's side as they began to exit the home, the explorer winked. "Thanks old friend, I don't think I could face my son again if he heard of some of my sexual exploits...or worse yet, followed in my footsteps!"
"Some of them made me blush, and I'm a Navy man!" Captain Good exclaimed, scurrying out the door to join Sir Henry and King Umbopa outside.
A few members of the former 'Barlow' gang stood by two coaches, prepared to take the distinguished visitors to where they needed to go. Quatermain tipped his head towards their leader, Cedric Barlow, in appreciation of their services, and covertly placed a small wad of money in the startled man's hand.
"You stood by me and my son," Allan whispered back with a hint of a smile. "I don't forget things like that."
Barlow glanced again at the amount of money in his hand and gave a low whistle. "You can count on me and my mates for anything you might need, gov'nor." Pocketing the 'token' of the hunter's gratitude, he jerked his thumb in the direction of the house. "I'll admit that you're the most unusual group of blighters I've ever met, but yet you all seem to...belong with each other."
Allan mulled over Barlow's words for a few moments, amazed at how it had taken so long to reach this point. "One big happy family," the adventurer responded as he turned to leave, giving his old friends one last farewell wave in the same fluid motion.
Once Quatermain entered inside the mansion, the rest of the League broke out of their trances, eyeing each other suspiciously, like something unexplainable had just happened to them. All eyes turned to their leader, who looked at them in return, his face giving away no clues.
"Why are you all standing around gawking at me?" the hunter barked out, pretending to be offended. "The party's over, I'm tired, and since I'm master of this manor...its about damn time you all went to your rooms and retired for the evening as well."
"Don't you mean, 'your rooms', oh master of the manor?" Dorian shot back snidely.
"As long as you behave yourself, Gray, it's your room. Same goes for the others."
"Does that mean...?" Skinner wondered out loud. "You don't mean that the room I'm staying in is actually 'my' room, do you?"
"Yes, I do mean that," Quatermain said with a huff, not wanting this moment to turn emotional. He just wanted to get some sleep since he was finally crashing down from such an exhilarating day. "As long as you buggers stay on the straight and narrow, you'll always have a place here to stay. Now, can we all agree to go to bed?"
"I think dear ol' Dad is gettin' a bit testy," Sawyer chimed in, noting the exhaustion slowly creeping over his father's features. "We can talk about it more tomorrow."
After everyone had exchanged several variations of 'good night', Tom lingered behind his friends. Not saying a word, he turned and gave the old explorer a quick hug in parting.
Before the young American could break free and race upstairs, Allan pulled his son into a tighter embrace, letting his paternal instincts overtake him without a bit of remorse. "Now get yourself to bed, lad. I'll be up in a few minutes to check on you..."
"I'm a grown man," Sawyer began to protest.
"And I'm a grumpy, older man who can easily beat your arse," Quatermain answered curtly. "Now do as your father says...," he spoke as easily as he had to Harry in the past.
A big smile broke over Tom's face. "Since you put it that way!" The blonde agent hurried up the stairs without further incident.
Pausing before he began his own trek upstairs, Allan Quatermain took a quick glance around the immediate area of his home and grinned to himself.
Home...something he thought he'd never feel about this place again. Yet, it wasn't the building itself that made it that way...it was the people who were now inside it.
His son, his team, his family.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The Allan Quatermain in "King Solomon's Mine" is much different than the portrayal Sean Connery did in LXG...I was having a bit of literary fun...I was deliberately mixing things up...wink wink.