Author's Note: Again, a present for a friend this Christmas, who I know as violetwine.
With a purr and a light mew, the grey tabby cat turned on its four padded paws, and rubbed his leg the other way with its soft body, its fuzzy tail twitching all the while as he stroked its back with half a smile on his face. The whiskers tickled his hand, even through his gloves, as it angled its head for a scratch behind the ears. With a chuckle, he conceded to the cat's demands.
Snow had been falling in London for days now, and quite a thick blanket had settled all around, as far as the eye could see. The cat made little patterns wherever it walked, back and forth, tiny paw prints as evidence of its presence. The trees wore a fine suit of shimmering white, the bare branches moistened by the icy coating. The benches of the park, too, had been covered, but he had managed to clear himself a seat, and sitting on his coat did little to bother him in his rare contentment. It was quiet; it was serene… and the company was quite favourable.
Henry Jekyll let the cat jump up onto the bench beside him, and its amber eyes were narrowed in happiness as he tickled its chin, smiling, his grey-blue eyes returning the expression to the animal. Its rattle showed just how calm it was, and it even put its forepaws up on his leg, and mewed at him. He laughed, and felt its spine arch against his palm as it traced down to the tail.
"I don't have any food for you," he told it simply, and the way the cat cocked its head almost communicated that the feline understood. It made a soft mumble – though not a distempered one – and settled for more stroking instead.
Edward Hyde was blissfully peaceful himself; Henry had heard practically nothing in the way of complaint for a little under a week. The last issue had been regarding Rodney Skinner's manners at the dinner table, but the doctor barely remembered what had been the problem; something to do with the bread, if he recalled correctly. With a shrug, he reminded himself it didn't matter, and it wouldn't do to ruin the mood.
Since their mission regarding the Fantom and his plans, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had had little in the way of crisis to deal with; nothing quite so spectacular as world war, anyway. They had had a few issues to sort, but nothing so threatening to global peace and affairs… and that suited Henry just fine. Having a secure 'job' was quite comforting. Of course, he was beyond relieved that they had been instated as an actual league. A fellow by the name of Campion Bond had tracked them down as they had been conducting their tour of the seas and the lands, and had offered them an actual title, which they had all agreed to. For Henry, it meant he had his amnesty… and that was perhaps the best Christmas present he could ever have hoped for.
The others were in the park somewhere as well, partaking in whatever activities they so wished. Nemo, of course, was simply admiring the sights, stoic and silent as ever, always contemplative. Agent Tom Sawyer and Skinner had engaged in a snowball fight almost as soon as they had entered Hyde Park – the irony of their position was not lost on the doctor, or his alter ego – and Mina Harker… well, the last he had seen, she had been watching a family building a snowman, an almost distant and nostalgic light in her blue eyes. Henry had refrained from asking regarding her fascination, and had instead left her to her devices, coming here to this bench… where this little cat had picked him for an afternoon companion. Not that he minded.
Of course, when he felt the unusual tension in that delicate and agile spine, his alarms went off, and he sat poised himself, turning his head to where the amber eyes had become fixated. There was no growl from the cat, or a hiss, but it wasn't exactly purring anymore either.
The beautiful woman was walking up to him almost as if she were gliding; her grace was so otherworldly that it would have been astounding to anyone who had no knowledge of her vampirism. Her skin was as flawless as the snow all around, and though she was dressed in black for the majority, her white blouse and red scarf were enough to make her seem nothing out of the ordinary. He offered her a smile, and it was one that she returned pleasantly.
"I wondered where you had gotten off to, Doctor," she said to him in her silky voice as she stood near to him. The cat relaxed, and Henry resumed his petting; the animal seemed to realise Mina meant it no ill will.
"Well," he began with a sigh of contentment as he gazed around at the odd beauty that had coated London, "I came to think… but then I found a friend, and I haven't had all that much time for thinking, really." He laughed gently, and indicated the seat beside himself. "Please."
"Thank you." Sweeping her long buttoned coat beneath her legs, she sat delicately on the wooden bench, admiring the animal with a fondness on her face. It crossed onto Henry's lap, and reached out its nose to her offered fingertip, giving a mew. She tickled its head, and laughed; a silvery peal of a sound that Henry could barely recall hearing before.
"If I dare say so… I think he likes you."
Mina smiled. "He reminds me of a cat I had once," she revealed, venturing to remove her glove so that she could savour the soft silkiness of the cat's fur. "Many years ago…"
There was that nostalgia again. Henry furrowed his brow gently, and cocked his head subtly. "Is something wrong?"
With a sigh, she stared down at the cat, who rubbed at her hand fervently, and explained, "It was not my cat… rather my son, Quincey's. The dear boy always loved animals, so it was unfair to keep them from him."
Henry frowned… he had never heard her speak of a son before. A late husband, yes… but never a child. He refrained from inquiring as to the child's whereabouts. He had a feeling the tale would not end well, and it was entirely the wrong time to dig up old, sour memories. Henry simply answered the query for himself; either the child was dead, or in another home… where Mina could not see him easily.
After a few minutes silence, he heard the loud and enthusiastic laughter of the resident American, and a noisy impact of snow upon what he guessed to be a leather jacket. The subsequent, "Oi!" was testament enough to his suspicion that Skinner had been the recipient of said ambush. The sounds of a light scuffle indicated the continuation of the play-fighting, and Henry looked back down at the cat. It was curling up on Mina's lap cosily, purring loudly and happily, whiskers twitching as she teased its coat with her feminine fingertips.
"It seems my friend has abandoned me," he quipped, garnering another smile from his companion. "But at least it is to someone such as yourself."
He felt the heat flush in his cheeks after saying such a thing, and suddenly found a nestling robin in a nearby bush very interesting indeed to save himself from being seen with such evidence to his embarrassment.
But when Mina did not mock him for his proclamation, he turned his gaze back to her. She was watching him, almost as if in study. It made him somewhat uncomfortable, but not thoroughly so… after all, what sane man would protest at having such beautiful eyes upon them in such a manner?
"Please, call me Mina. It is the holiday season, and formalities have no place among friends."
A little taken aback, he nodded. "Very well. Then I insist you call me Henry."
"Agreed." Another smile. He was suddenly extremely fond of that expression, when sent in his direction. He couldn't argue that he admired it.
The animal settled on her lap seemed to have drifted off into a doze, and Mina traced light circles atop its striped head, either thoughtful or in remembrance once again. Unsure of what to say, Henry wracked his brains for a topic. Nothing immediate came to mind, and he had to stop himself from removing his pocket watch and fiddling with it; he was fighting to break the nervous habit. One day he was going to fuss that watch until it broke, and he didn't fancy that at all.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she murmured to him, glancing around in wonder with a soft expression on her face, so ageless and perfect that Henry could do nothing but stare at her instead. After a few moments, he shook himself out of his stupor, and nodded.
"Yes… yes, quite. It makes the city almost peaceful; washes away the sin." He nearly cringed at his own words, and his unwelcome ability to 'ruin the mood'.
"Indeed," she concurred to his surprise, running one hand subconsciously over the cat's side as it slumbered. The purr was gone, evidence that it had dozed off happily, whiskers occasionally twitching in a dream of some sort.
Henry envied that animal then; for dreams and contentment such as that in the sleeping world. His own night time visions were filled with memories of past wrongs, committed at Edward's hands.
"The snow has a way of cleansing everything," Mina continued as Skinner yelped on the other side of the park, no doubt pelted anew by a projectile. "It makes us forget about all the horrors we see from day to day, in life and in death; it makes us believe that this world has some good in it after all…"
Henry's smile was so subtle that he barely felt it for himself, but when a hand touched softly to his face to turn it, he was surprised to find that Mina was looking at him, as she said gently, "There is good in this world, Henry Jekyll… all we have to do is look for it. And sometimes, we need not look so far to find it, in the most unexpected of places."
And with that, she leaned in to him, and pressed her lips tenderly to his, granting him with such a kiss that stole his breath from his lungs. Lights exploded behind his closed eyelids in shock at the affection, and he could do nothing but remain perfectly still lest he make it appear he was uncomfortable… something far from the truth.
After a short time – the greedy part of the physician noted it was too short – she pulled back slowly, and lowered her head almost as if embarrassed, though there was a smile on her face that reminded Henry of a bashful schoolgirl. Once again, the crystalline eyes turned to regard the white, glistening trees and rooftops, almost as if nothing had happened, leaving him in his stupor until he found his voice.
When he did, the words that tumbled from his mouth were not entirely unexpected; "Mina… why did you do that?" The nervousness was gone; the uncertainty faded.
The vampire looked to him confidently, and revealed to him something that almost made his heart explode in his chest, it was so unforeseen, "… Because you're the sweetest, kindest man I've ever met."
Henry blinked, having met her gaze with a fresh focus, and he found that no words could come from his mouth now. He did notice she had shifted slightly closer to him on the wooden bench now; either seeking heat or companionship. Either way, Henry did not fight it, and as he too turned to regard the winter beauty all around, with the chatter of robins and Sawyer and Skinner's fight in the background for company, he let a schoolboy smirk run across his face.
On Mina's lap, the cat opened one lazy amber eye, and seemed to grin.