By: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I don't own The League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen or anything in conjunction with LXG nor am I making a profit from this story. No copyright infringement is intended. Sadly, I do not own Tom Sawyer either.
Author's Note: This story picks up immediately after the "shooting lesson" scene in the LXG movie. This is a subplot that supposedly fits into the movie's timeframe. However, the movie's timeframe moves along as quick as the Nautilus so I apologize if it seems too much happens too quickly...I worked with the three days they gave me when they traveled from Paris to Venice. FYI: Later chapters may venture into AU. This is my first attempt at LXG writing so I would love to hear some feedback!
Hearing the hatch door firmly shut behind him, announcing the adventurer's abrupt departure, Tom, sighing, leaned against Allan Quatermain's gun. His insensitive question ran through his head 'Did you teach your son to shoot like this?' 'You idiot! And I told Huck "he" had no tact,' he rebuked as his eyes gazed at the ocean. Suddenly all light died in his eyes and he brokenly whispered, "Huck".
Clenching his jaw against the emotions he dared not unleash, Sawyer gripped tightly to the gun barrel. 'I miss you, Huck. Why'd you have to leave me?!' Unbidden the memory of his friend dying in his arms came crashing into his thoughts. Immediately he called out "Chilao" signaling Nemo's sailor to release another target. Standing still as granite, he tracked the ball as it sailed through the air. Then as the ball arched toward the water, Tom, with the speed of a cheetah, broke his stance, swung the gun up and deftly shot the ball out of the air. The action caused a flash of pain to crease the young man's face but no one was there to take notice. And if Nemo's man saw the spy's trembling right hand nearly drop the gun before his left hand took the brunt of the weight, he did not remark upon it.
Cursing silently, Tom let his right hand, now unburdened by the weight of the rifle, drop to his side. He fought the urge to bring his left hand up to rub his right shoulder in an effort to minimize the agony now stemming from that area of his body. Pain was nothing new to him..even this type of pain. Resolutely, he swore that it would not hinder him in his plan. He would avenge Huck's death...all else be damned.
Turning around, he offered thanks to the sailor before stepping through the hatch. Slinging the rifle over his left shoulder, Sawyer maneuvered down the ladder, grimacing against the strain the action had on his right shoulder. When his feet finally touched the levelness of the deck, he couldn't deny his relief. After yesterday's shootout and the hunt for Hyde, he had sworn to take things a mite easier to reserve some strength for the real battle. In truth he had figured there would be little need for worry that he would not take his own advice. They were in a boat..under water. What trouble could he get into?!
A smirk pulled onto his lips as he recalled Quatermain's surprising invitation, "Would you like to learn how to shoot?" The boy that still thrived in Tom wanted to leap at the offer but the man that he was would not be so readily led. So instead of acceptance he had offered up a cocky reply, knowing even as the words left him that he might well be blowing any chance he had to befriend the man he so admired. To the young spy's relief, the adventurer had bantered back an encouragement and held out his rifle to him, a rifle that Sawyer knew the hunter valued above all things. Quatermain, easily reading the young spy's hesitancy, bade with the one word, "Try." Quatermain's gesture was one of trust and faith...things Tom felt uncomfortable bearing. Maybe that was why he tried to brush off the honor the older man was bestowing on him by hastily grabbing the rifle.
Even with such mean treatment of his rifle, Allan had not revoked his offer. Instead more gentleness entered the older man's eyes as he said, "Easy. Easy," as if he wished to sooth the hurt he sensed in the other man.
If truth were to be told, Tom felt some of the ache in his heart lessen as he met the man's eyes a second before he sighted the gun. When Allan stepped closer to him, his gentle instructions delivered while he unconsciously put a hand upon the young man's shoulder, Tom tensed at the man's closeness. Having never had a father figure in his life, Tom was unprepared for the contentment that flowed over him at having earned even this small attention from Quatermain. Maybe that's why he missed the shot he should have made. Maybe that's why he let his tongue run away with him, prying where he had no place, unconsciously pushing the older man away with the utterance of less than ten words.
Now as he approached Quatermain's room, Tom felt shame color his face. No matter what had come over him, he knew he had no right to pry into Allan's personal memories. A private man himself, Sawyer knew how little he'd appreciate someone shooting questions at him they had no business asking. The thought of facing Quatermain so soon after his stupid actions was not high on Tom's list of pleasurable tasks. Sighing, he steeled himself to meet Quatermain's fiery gaze as he came upon the man's room, only to draw up short at the sight of the open door and empty room. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Tom stalked into the room, reverently laid the gun down upon the bed and fled the room without a second glance. He deserved a tongue lashing from Quatermain but not now...not when he felt like he would rather cut off his right arm than feel the pain the offending limb was causing him.
It was an answer to prayer that he managed to make it to his room without running into another member of the so called league or even one of Nemo's crew. Crossing the room's threshold, he promptly shut the door. His energy spent, he rested his back upon the wooden door. Realizing he no longer needed to maintain a façade, Tom closed his eyes and slid down the door to sit on the floor. Too much had happened. Huck dying, trying to pick up the Fantom's trail, meeting the rare personalities of the league, joining the league. Too much too soon...too much bad not enough good. Not for the first time, he wished he and Huck's fates were switched. Huck was the strong one, everyone knew that. 'So why's he dead and I'm not?!' screamed through his soul. Who had misshuffled the deck?! Who had screwed up the balance he had so fervently believed in?! He wanted a 'do over' like he and Huck always did when they played poker and a hand didn't come out like they thought it should. Given another chance he'd make things right, Huck would not be dead...Huck would be here with the league...he would earn the league's respect...there would be no doubts that Huck would bring down the Fantom. 'Huck wouldn't let me down ...he would avenge my death' the recrimination rattled around in Tom's head, shining a bright light on his gut wrenching fear that he would fail Huck yet again. "It shoulda been me Huck, not you," Tom choked out, unmindful of the tears tracking down his face, "it shoulda been me." Again the memories unmercifully played through his mind.
Three days ago, under the dense fog, two barely discernable figures met on the London dock.
The taller one of the two unconsciously kept his hand upon the Colt .45 nestled at his side, "Tom these docks give me the creeps," Huckleberry Finn confessed to his best friend.
Chuckling, Tom Sawyer taunted, "Who's the scaredy cat now? Thought you bragged a time or two that the only thing that ever was gonna scare you was Injun Joe." His keen eyesight taking in his friend's well hidden blush of shame.
Knowing from past experience that lying to the man who knew him best was a waste of time, Huck gamely tacked on, "Yeah, him and ghosts and Jack the Ripper and this creepy fog."
Enjoying his usually fearless partner's discomfort, Sawyer calmly stated, "We got fog on the Mississippi. I never saw you get scared of it."
Huck's eyes darkened with growing frustration. "I 'know' we got fog on the Mississippi...I'm the one that got run over by that paddle boat in the fog.."
"So you keep insisting but only God knows what's the truth..." Tom interrupted with a smirk, earning him a glare from his friend as his disputes always did.
"It's the truth, you stubborn fool," Finn growled, glad for the welcome distraction of a good argument with his friend.
Sawyer's brow rose in challenge, "The truth? From you?"
Raising a hand to forestall his friend's continuing attack on his good name, Huck steered the conversation back on course, "All I'm saying is this fog here isn't like at home...there's something dark lurking in it's shadow."
Tom couldn't deny his friend's words for he too felt unnerved by this weather in a place so far from home. "Hey, it was your idea to track the Fantom and that trail led here."
Immediately the older secret service agent got a look of seriousness on his face as his eyes bore into Tom, "War starts in Europe.."
"Yeah, I know," Tom sighed exaggeratedly before he repeated Huck's logic with a fair imitation of his friend, " 'How long until it reaches America?'" His recital had both men smirking. Sawyer shook his head in disbelief and admiration. "I can't believe you convinced the President with a line like that."
A smile lit up Huck's face even in such gloomy surroundings. "We got permission to go after the Fantom, didn't we? Regardless of where the hunt took us."
"That "hunt" took us far from home onto this old dock with this creepy fog waiting for the Fantom to make a grand entrance," Tom pointed out, not so much complaining as clarifying.
"I know," Huck admitted, an impish smile turning up his lips. "Ain't our jobs the best?!"
Tom laughed softly, "I'm turning as crazy as you are."
"Turning?" Huck challenged, playfully shoving Tom back a step. "Go back to your post and let's catch this rascal so we can go home."
"Fine but I'm only gonna wait for another 5 or 6 hours for this villain to show himself," Sawyer threatened with a devious smile as he walked backward away from his friend.
"Shame on your poor devotion," Huck called lowly to his departing friend. But when Tom turned around and began striding away, Huck beckoned, "Tom."
Hearing a note in his friend's voice he hadn't heard before, Tom stopped mid stride and turned around to look where he knew his friend stood amid the dense fog.
Huck took a few steps forward so he could clearly see his friend. Firmly he ordered, "You see something signal me...don't go playing hero, Tom," the dread building in his gut bringing out his protective instincts for the younger man.
"Me?" Tom replied, pointing to himself, with a cocky grin. "Play hero? You must have me confused with one of those characters in those adventure books you keep reading." When no mirth lightened Finn's stance, Tom knew his friend's worry for him was sincere. Solemnly Tom gave Huck the promise he was waiting for. "No playing hero...not for me or you. We square on that?"
"We're square," Huck promised back. Immediately some of the tension bled from his stance as he watched his best friend disappear in the fog.
As Tom made his patrol of his designated section of the docks, his nerves came alive with warning. Pulling one of his Colts from it's holster, he hid behind some crates mere seconds before two figures stalked onto the docks' planks.
"Everything must go as planned, is that clear," the cloaked figure growled, causing Sawyer to tighten his grip upon his gun. He had heard that voice before.... in America. The Fantom had finally made his stage call.
Remembering his promise to Huck, Tom held himself in place and prepared to give the bird call signaling to Huck that their quarry was in their sights. Then logic kicked in as he listened to the oppressive silence on the night. Suddenly he knew the bird call would be unnatural on such a dark, foggy night. No self respecting bird would be out of their nests. Changing tactics, he gave their childhood signal. A darn good imitation of a cat's meowing caterwauling.
The sound caused the Fantom and his lackey to turn toward the crates in surprise but neither took a venture to come across the howling feline.
Regaining the thread of the conversation, the Fantom's lackey reassured, "Nothing will go amiss."
'Wrong' Tom silently contradicted with resolve. Though no sound was made, Tom could sense Huck's presence nearby. Pulling his second handgun, Sawyer took a calming breath. Boldly he surged to his feet, surprising both men as he advanced forward, each of his guns sighting upon a man, "You're play's got too many bad reviews, Fantom."
"So we've been asked to close your show down ...for good," Finn announced from his position to the right of Sawyer, a cocky smile upon his face, his shotgun aimed at the Fantom's head.
"Best if you do like they do in all the great western movies and raise your hands..." Tom ordered as he cocked both his guns. "Now."
With a growl of hatred, the Fantom raised his hands. However, the Fantom's henchman, having avowed long ago that he would risk anything to not end up back behind bars, snaked his hand into his coat and withdrew his gun. The weapon never cleared his coat. Sawyer's bullet slammed into his chest, plowing him to the ground.
The next second, Finn was stalking toward the Fantom with malice in his eyes and his shotgun aimed unmistakably at the Fantom's one visible eye. "You try something like that and I'll blow your head off your shoulders," Finn snarled.
Determinedly, Sawyer approached the down man who lay unmoving on the docks, his guns sighted on his quarry. Standing over the man, the secret service agent could detect neither movement, the drawing of breath or the twitching of pain but something in Sawyer's gut was screaming that danger was still lurking in this foggy night. He was about to bend down to further confirm that the lackey was dead when the dead man raised his gun and shot him.
The bullet tore into Sawyer's shoulder, propelling him backwards right off the docks into the water.
Huck watched in horror as the bullet struck his friend, knocking him into the water. Without hesitation, Finn's shotgun roared, his aim assuring that the man who had possibly murdered his best friend would not resurrect again. The Fantom, taking advantage of the split second the shotgun was not sighted upon him, withdrew his knife from inside his waist. Stepping forward, he plunged the knife deep into Huckleberry Finn's stomach.
Surprised agony ripped through Huck. Instinctively, he slammed his shotgun's barrel into the Fantom's head, staggering the villain. Huck resighted his gun on the Fantom and fired only to watch in disappointment as the Fantom ducked and his bullet imbedded into a warehouse wall. Before Huck could track his target's motions, the Fantom disappeared into the fog.
Tom's head broke the surface of the water in time to hear the roar of Huck's shotgun. Desperately, Sawyer reached above his head for the boards of the dock and hoisted himself out of the water as quick as he could with a bullet lodged in his right shoulder. He crawled fully onto the dock in time to see the Fantom escape. Swinging his attention to his friend, whose back was to him, he opened his mouth to order Huck to get after the Fantom, when, to his shock, Huck crumbled to his knees.
"Huck!" Tom cried in alarm as he scampered across the few feet that divided him from his friend. He came up behind Huck in time to catch the older agent in his arms as his friend collapsed backwards.
Cradling his friend in his left arm, Tom repeated, "Huck!" as his eyes met his friend's pained green eyes. Flickering his eyes over Finn, by the lantern's light, Tom could see blood seeping from his friend's stomach. Frantically he pressed his right hand against the wound, eliciting a moan of pain from Finn.
Huck's pale face focused on Tom and a weak smile turned up his lips as he registered the welcoming sight of his best friend. "Tom!" he rasped, forcing the relieved greeting from his tightening lungs. "Thought ...you...were ...dead."
"I'm fine, Huck, just like you're gonna be," Tom assured his eyes clinging to his best friend's pale face.
"I thought... I taught ya ...to lie.. better than that," Huck wheezed out, a smirk gracing his features.
"I ain't lying," Tom refuted, clutching Huck tighter to his chest even as he felt his friend's blood coat his right hand. "You're too stubborn to die."
With pain etched in every line of his face, Huck shook his head marginally where it rested in the crook of Tom's arm. "Even...the ...stubborn ones...die."
"Huck, no!" Tom brokenly denied, leaning over the man he held. "Fight this! Please, Huck, don't die on me!"
Huck raised a hand to Tom's bowed head, causing the younger man to pull back to meet his eyes. It hurt Huck's soul to see the tears running down his friend's face. "It's my... time, Tom." Tom shook his head vigorously but Huck continued, his eyes soaking in the sight of his friend, knowing it would have to last him a good while. "I got ...no regrets...'cept maybe ...not being ...round to keep you..outta trouble. So you gotta...do a ...better job...of doing that...yourself. Promise me, Tom...promise me ..you'll take care of..yourself. I want ..your...oath," Huck struggled to get the words out through the building pressure in his chest.
Despairingly, Tom accepted that he could do nothing to alter Huck's fate. His hand trembled as he withdrew it from Huck's wound and placed it in his best friend's weakening grasp. "I promise, Huck," Tom gave his oath as tears slipped down his face.
At Tom's words, peace settled in Huck's eyes. "I'm holdin'...ya...to it...Sawyer," he whispered then the light died in his eyes and the hand Tom held went limp.
"No!" Tom cried, pulling his friend's body fully into his embrace. "No," he brokenly sobbed, clutching tighter to his friend. "NO!" he yelled in utter rage and despair. The word echoed hauntingly off the water.
Tom jerked as if struck as the memories released their hold upon him. Swiping at the tears tracking down his face, he drew in a shaky breath. He needed to face the facts. Huck was gone...and there was no "do over".
Pushing himself off the floor, Tom stood up. Decisively he locked the door. He did not welcome any company. Though he doubted any would seek him out anyway. Bitterly he denied any hurt he felt at that truth. The others were called to be the league...he wasn't even suppose to be here.
Needing to shut out his thoughts, he crossed the room to a table where his traveling bag sat. He withdrew a bottle of whiskey from the bag's depths. Reverently his thumb traced over the whiskey's label...it was Huck's favorite brand. Brutally, Tom twisted off the cap and drank a generous helping straight from the bottle. He welcomed the burn of the fiery liquor. He took another gulp before walking to the bed and sinking down to sit on the mattress.
Placing the bottle on the nightstand, he shrugged out of his vest with a grimace of pain. With frustration and dread he looked to his right shoulder. He wasn't surprised to see a bloody stain marring his white shirt. Lifting his shirt with his left hand, he viewed the bandage underneath with little more than fascination. It was soaked with blood.
The shootout at Dorian's had not done the wound any favors. He had barely registered the pain in the heat of the battle. Instead all he had felt was vindication as his bullets slammed into each of the Fantom's men, knowing with certainty that the men would not be getting up...ever again, despite the amount of armor they sported. No, he had learned his lesson the hard way with the lackey on the dock whose armor had blocked his shot. Never again would he let some small measure of mercy unknowingly lead to the death of someone he cared about.
When the fighting was done, the excitement over, there was no denying, at least to himself, the considerable pain he was in. Nor could he ignore the fact that his right arm was trembling with the strain. Once aboard the Nautilus, he had taken a moment to see how bad the damage was. He wasn't surprised to see blood beginning to seep through the first layer of the bandage. But that didn't stop him from taking Quatermain up on his invitation to help bag Hyde. Course Tom had to resign himself to using his hand guns, knowing with certainity that his arm would no longer bear the strain of handling the Winchester.
When he was finally back in his room for the night, blood had turned the top layer of the bandage a nice pink color. Common sense told him to seek out one of the doctors aboard the ship to get it re-bandaged. But common sense and him didn't always see eye to eye. He didn't like sawbones...and he "really" didn't want to put himself into Mr. Hyde...or Dr. Jekyll's care. He had seen the true nature of the man. Then there was Nemo's doctor...a cold distant man Tom had been introduced to when he came aboard. Or Mina...he shivered as he remembered her proclivity to blood. Given those choices he decided he didn't need any doctoring. The wound had begun bleeding on it's own it sure as well could stop on it's own
And that theory might have worked...if he had declined Quatermain's shooting lesson. The kick of the adventurer's gun "Matilda" had torn through the last of the intact stitches. 'But I wouldn't trade that experience for anything,' he defended, a smile turning up his lips, thinking, not of the actual shooting, but of the time he had spent with Allan Quatermain, the famous hunter.
His smile faded as he remembered his foolish words to Quatermain. "Ah shoot," he mumbled and lay down on the bed, fully clothed and on top of the blankets. For a moment his eyes focused on the white ceiling. A moment later, he clamped his eyes shut and prayed that he would just slip into some void where his failures could no longer haunt him. As sleep crept over him, some survival instinct fought the void's grasp but he quelled the internal fight quickly. He wanted some peace...and he frankly didn't care what it would cost.
Thanks for reading! Love to hear what you think!