Alrighty then folks, I really shouldn't have started another fic, but I've got a good head start on this one. Henry might be a bit OOC in one part of this, but I couldn't resist. A part of me really thinks that the history of political science" would actually be a book he would read. But the other part usually kicks the other into submissions and firmly assures that it can bend the rules a tad. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but a few Canadian pennies.
Tom looked sadly as M's pod disappeared beneath the nearly solid surface of the great frozen lake. A few bubbles emerged from the iced over plane, but nothing more. Pounding a fist onto the broken wall, Tom muttered a curse under his breath and looked ashamedly behind him. Allan Quatermain, the last of the great white hunters, stood fingering the blade he pulled out of his shoulder. M had only had time for a unsteady stab when the last tremor shook the very foundations of his quickly crumbling fortress.
"I didn't get him, Allan, he's gone." Tom mumbled the words, avoiding Quatermain's gaze while his face heated in shame. It was his moment to prove that he could pull his weight in the group and he failed.
"I can see that, boy. Next time you'll get him." He clasped Tom's shoulder and gave it a brief squeeze. "Come, the rest will want to know of this." His tone was soft and the disappointment was not concealed wholly. Tom hung his head, he couldn't bear to think that the frustration in Allan's words had been for him. Tom followed docilely, hoping that when they next time came, if it ever did, that Allan would be the one to get him. At least then everyone would know that he would be well and truly dead. The American agent sighed miserably, this certainly wasn't turning out to be the adventure he had imagined.
Tom stopped in mid-stride, a look of horror flying across his face as he recalled something he had forgotten in the excitement. Without a moment's more hesitation he took off running through the ruins of the fortress and down the hallway. Allan blinked in bewilderment at Tom's groan of "Oh God, Skinner," but ran after him just the same.
Allan winced away at the sight of the thief's charred skin. Tom had knelt down besides Skinner and was murmuring comfortingly to him while his eyes ran worriedly over the burns the covered the majority of him. Tom looked up to Allan, "We need to get him to the Nautilus and fine Jekyll." Allan nodded and left at a run.
Henry and Nemo had wandered about in the snow for a time, trying to locate a spot where they could re-enter the bastion. The front entrance had crumbled thanks the little jab caused by Skinner's bomb's.
Crawling into a small opening and waving aside dust, they peered through the powdered stone and rubble. Parts of the stronghold were still collapsing, but part of it still remained standing. Glancing back at Nemo, Jekyll coughed into this hand as the unsettled dust was swallowed with a gulp of air. "Hello?" Jekyll called out into the cloudy air, a figure was coming towards him. "Who are you?"
The doctor jumped when Mina stepped in front of him, close enough to be seen through the dust that the buckled stone had thrown into the air. "Just me, where is everyone? Or more importantly, where is M?"
Jekyll opened his mouth to answer her, but another rang out before he got the chance. "Not quite dead, but there is another more pressing matter at the moment!" Allan's voice called out from the curtain of dust that still lingered in the air. All heads swiveled towards Quatermain.
"What do you mean not dead?" Mina's voice held a swift undercurrent of annoyance. "If he is not dead then is he at least captured? Where is he?"
Allan shook his head and bent over, gasping in a few breaths. The grit in the air was not the most pleasant when it was being inhaled in large amounts as he found out, he had run the entire way. "Jekyll, come, it's Skinner." Without waiting to see if the they had followed him, Allan took off again, hoping he could find his way back to Tom and the invisible man.
It was a relief to see that the air had started to become a bit clearer as the dust started to drift to the ground, covering it and causing anyone who walked over it to leave tracks. Mina caught up with Allan and threw a look at him out of the corner of her eyes. The look plainly said that she did not know what was going on but did not like the looks of it.
Mina did not get a full look ay the sight they were coming up upon until she too was kneeling next to Skinner and Jekyll was close behind. He felt for a pulse and found it rapid and shallow. "We need to get him out of here."
Tom rolled over, sleepily smacking at the fly that tickled his nose. With a small buzzzzz it landed once more and this time Tom's hand caught it in mid flight. Though instead of stopping its noise and leaving him along, it let out an indignant cry. "Ow! Watch where you're swinging mate. Nearly took me hand off." Tom's eyes snapped open to stare at the perpetrator, only one voice sounded like that aboard the ship. He smiled his crooked smile when the only thing in his live of vision seemed to be a floating bandage. The white linen binding was wrapped around a lean chest and about a shoulder. "Skinner, Jekyll will have my head and yours if he catches you here."
A small depression formed at the end of the bed as Skinner sat down. His cockney voice was full of righteous anger, "Well, if'n that's how you're going to treat a wounded comrade then I'll just take my leave." Tom rolled his eyes and put a hand out to stop him, "I said if he catches you. I certainly won't tell him. But I haven't seen you if he notices you're gone."
Tom knew the thief well enough to know that Skinner wore a grin and most likely had just winked at him. "Right then, he won't catch me if you won't tell."
A nervous cough broke out from the doorway, "Sorry to interrupt gentlemen, But I am afraid that I will have to collect my patient now." Jekyll never leaned, he stood stiffly at the doorway. Somehow he always managed to seem nervous, even when there was no cause. His smile looked painful and he wore a look of mild irritated displeasure. He usually did when Skinner went missing, it had happened more that once.
Skinner was standing in an instant, stepping quickly to the other side of the bed to put distance between him and the aggravated doctor. "Let's be reasonable now Jekyll. Can't I even stretch my legs a bit?"
Sighing in aggravation, Jekyll shook his head and glanced at his pocket watch, "I have been looking for you for a half hour." He frowned and started towards Skinner meaningfully. The thief backed up until he could retreat no farther, his voice rising a few octaves as he tried to persuade Jekyll to let him go. Tom had donned a shirt and finished tucking it into his breeches when he finally intervened. "What if he stayed with me? I promise that I won't let him out of my sight." Jekyll's head swiveled towards the agent and Skinner's may have as well. The doctor appeared to be thinking, he did not like to let his go patients very easily. Studying Tom's face intently, there was a moment of tense silence before, "Very well Mr. Sawyer, but if I hear of any mischief, I know where I will find it." A smile hovered on Jekyll's stern face.
Skinner waited until Jekyll was out of the room before he heaved a careful sigh of relief. He did not want to wait until he was completely healed before he was free of that stuffy infirmary. It was the closest thing to a miracle as far as he could say that Jekyll allowed him to stay with Tom. And speaking of the agent, he grinned at where the bandages said Skinner stood, "He must be in a good mood. You're a lucky man." Skinner winked, though Tom could not see it, "Don't I know it, mate."
Tom dressed quickly, leaving his untidy hair to be reckoned with later. The invisible thief was near hopping with impatience to be out and about, though it might not have been the best way to describe the submarine right then, they had submerged an hour ago. Tom supposed Skinner was just glad to be vertical again. The ships crew that they encountered in the narrow halls stepped aside with polite nods when they saw Tom and a seemingly floating bandage that they of course assumed to be the invisible man walking by. Tom made Skinner retrieve his long leather coat from his room. It was difficult to keep track of the thief even with the bandages and he was more susceptible to the cold when he was recovering.
They wandered the halls for a time, but only after getting chased form the kitchens and finding none of the League at breakfast or in their rooms. Well, actually only Allan was not in his room. The other's were closed and there was no sound coming from them. It was almost like they had disappeared from the ship.
Oddly enough, they found the rest of the league in the library. Tom and Skinner had had no plans of going to the library. Out of all the occupants of the ship, there no two people less likely to be seen there. They had been heading towards the kitchens to try and catch a late breakfast once again when Tom halted suddenly at the sound of Mina's voice drifting through the door that was not quite closed.
Allan, Mina, Nemo and Jekyll started as they heard the noticeable thump of Skinner running into something solid, in this case, Tom, and then the loud exclamation, "Ow! What do you think you're doing, Tom. Why'd you stop?" The door swung open enthusiastically as Tom fell against it, off balanced as Skinner shoved him away. Tom straighten and looked sheepish as Skinner came after him, not noticing that there was other people in the room. His next words died on his lips when he saw that the room was occupied and he was now the center of attention.
He smiled, though no one could see it, and grabbed Tom by the collar as he started to back out of the library. Jekyll raised an eyebrow and coughed to get the invisible man's attention. "Skinner, do you remember out little chat?" There was a hesitant silence before, "…Yes."
"Are you quite sure? I remembered distinctly telling you that your custody is to be back in my care if you caused mischief. Consider yourself caught red-handed. Tom, please escort him back to the infirmary." Skinner gave an exaggerated groan and slumped his shoulders dejectedly. It only made him more frustrated that Tom could not see the furious glare he directed at him.
"Wait." Allan held up a hand, "They might as well hear it now, saves us from having to explain it to them later." Mina nodded her agreement and Jekyll thought for a moment before he too nodded. Nemo looked as sturdy and calm as ever, though he smiled slightly at Tom and Skinner as they took a chair each. Allan cut his eyes towards Tom, the distinct twinkle of merriment shone in them. He had stalled Jekyll deliberately.
Skinner leaned back in his cushioned chair and folded his arm across his chest. His worn leather long coat creaked mutedly. These talks they had to endure were the dullest thing about the League. Gazing off into the distance…to where a decanter of scotch rested on a table…he wished he somewhere else. Tuning out the voices, he hummed quietly to himself.
Tom listened intently. He had not done much over the past few weeks except rest, practice with Allan and visit Skinner. M had gotten away, he knew this, but it had not registered how much of a threat it had come to be. But as he sat listening in turn to Mina, Jekyll and Allan, Tom came to realize how serious the situation had become. M had not just escaped, but the box of "tricks" had gone with him. It sent a shiver down Tom's spine. "So what you're saying is that we don't know where this box is going to end up." Allan nodded, but was interrupted by Mina, "Not quite Tom. True, we do not know now where all of them are, but we will know."
Tom and Allan exchanged puzzled glances until Nemo handed the vampiress a newspaper. The headlines made it quite clear where one of the boxes ingredients wound up. A few large unidentified beasts of some sort had appeared in Brazil. Tom whistled and Jekyll fidgeted with his pocket watch, the corner of one twitched every so often. When he spoke it had a hint of a tremble in it, "Well," he paused to clear his throat, "we had best be on our way." They sat in a silence that was only broken by Skinner's quite humming. The league cut their eye's towards the thief, but he appeared not to notice.
Nemo stood and bowed to them formally, "If we are to make it to Brazil in any decent amount of time, then I should get us underway." They nodded to the stoical captain and began to drift one at a time from the library. Jekyll halted in front of Skinner who, for the first time, appeared to notice he was being addressed. Snapping out of the trance he had been in, he stood suddenly and quickly. Jekyll took a hasty step back to avoid collision. His leather coat swirling at his quick movements, he used Tom as a shield.
"I've been good, you saw me, not one peep through the entire time." Jekyll made a vexed sound with his tongue and folded his arms across his chest impatiently. "If you behaved so well, then tell me what we spoke about." Skinner's mouth opened and then shut again. By his silence Jekyll guessed he had not been listening. Reaching for the invisible thief's arm and pulled him forcefully towards the door.
"Hold up, Henry." Allan's deep voice sounded from behind them, saving Skinner once again. "I'll watch both of them." Jekyll threw up his hands in irritation and shoved Skinner in the hunters direction. "Fine, take them both. Allan, I do not care what you do to them, toss them out a window for all I care. Good luck." Ever the gentleman, Henry only shut the door a tad harder than was strictly necessary. Allan cast a mock angry scowl at them, "Maybe I will take up Jekyll's idea and chuck you both over the side of the boat."
"'e said to lob us out a window Allan, not the-" He was cut off as Tom stifled him mouth quickly. Tom shrugged ruefully at the hunter, "We didn't mean to fall in here. I heard voices and Skinner is blind." From beneath the hands that muffled his protests, Skinner growled threateningly. Allan chuckled warmly and ushered them both from the Library
The Nautilus rose from several hours to recharge the solar panels. It would take them about a week to get to Brazil. Allan chauffeured them around until Skinner finally retired to his room early to sleep. From then on Tom and Allan retrieved their guns and withdrew to the deck for the last hour of the Nautilus's rise to the surface. Tom had always enjoyed spending these times with Allan. The man was like a father to him…and then there was the shooting. There didn't seem to be anything more satisfactory than shooting up random objects.
He let off three shots before he realized Allan was talking to him. Wiggling a finger in his ear to clear the ringing, Tom tilted his head to one side and said a bit too loudly, "Say that again?" Allan clapped him on the shoulder warmly and steered him towards he door. "Were diving, boy, get below before you have to swim to Brazil."
Tom let himself be guided towards the door. Crewman held it open and bowed them in before it was just and tightly locked. The blonde agent felt them sinking and he steadied himself by grabbing Allan for support. They would arrive in about a week to Brazil. Tom sighed, that meant an incredibly dull week without stops and hardly anytime above the water. Only enough time for them to get on each others nerves and become so confined that they would start prowling that halls looking or something to alleviate the monotony. Tom branched off from Quatermain, leaving to go to his own room. If he was going to spend that much time with the League, then he was going to try to sleep away the first few hours and hopefully wake up and see it in a different light.
It was Mina's time this late at night. She normally did not like to find anyone else awake when she was up. It was awkward when the other person knew why you liked to be up at an unreasonable hour. That was why she started when Jekyll hastily stood from the chair he had occupied a moment earlier. She smiled and inwardly sighed, he had supposed that Henry would have retired to his room by now, there was usually no one in the Library at this hour.
His coat was unbuttoned and his normally tidy hair was a bit disheveled. He caught the book he had been reading just before it hit the ground. He straightened and quickly laid the book on his seat and ran a hand over his head, trying to make his hair lay flat. Mina held up a hand to stall him. "Sit down Henry, I do not mind." He looked unsure, but sat and toyed with his book. Mina gazed at the tall bookcases that lined the room. It was one of the largest rooms in the vessel, plainly decorated, but friendly and warm. It was filled with large cushioned chairs with high backs and tall lamps that cast a welcoming glow. Mina liked to spend evenings there when she was not in her room.
Though it seemed that Henry did as well when he was not also holed up in his room. Besides it might be an interesting time to talk to the doctor. She, nor anyone else, usually saw Henry without him looking his best. She often wondered how he did it. Jekyll flipped the book open to the page he had originally been reading and held it open in his lap; not reading, just looking at the words on the paper. "Do you think we will be able to…dispose of them?" She had not been expecting him to talk first, he tended to be quite shy. Though there was no need to say what them was. She knew what Henry meant. Would they be able to defeat copies of themselves. Not just copies, actual beings with the same peculiarity as themselves. They would not be mindless clones, they would have once been normal people.
But they would not be like Mina or like Henry or, God help them if they were, like Skinner. They would be no doubt working for M or have had his influence. If they thought this was over, they had just crushed the tip of the iceberg. And iceberg that would have been long melted if that box had been destroyed. Mina compressed her lips into a tight white line. That wasn't fair though, Tom and Allan had tried their best. "I hope so Henry." She faltered for a minute, choosing a book from one of the shelves, "We haven't ever faced one of us. But Tom has, you remember? He told us of the man that had recruited us, Mr. Reed?" Henry nodded and she continued, "he fought him after he had turned himself invisible. We just need to outsmart them, it should be simple. We have all had years of practice being ourselves, and they have next to none."
Henry smiled a small smile and murmured almost to himself, though Mina knew she was meant to hear it, "Easy? Outsmarting another Hyde? I have trouble trying to do that to one already." She glanced at him, but he didn't look. His face grew a little pale and he winced, remaining that way for a minute, lips moving in a silent battle. Breaking his gaze away from where he had been staring into space, Jekyll closed his eyes before they popped open again, as if he had seen something horrible. Mina did not question further, Hyde could be really be demanding and a voice inside your head was disconcerting to say the least. She thought that most of the time, Henry suffered more than any of them. And she knew that her own…oddities paled besides Henry's in some ways. She was sure she would have ended her own life long ago if she had had Hyde running loose inside her head.
"And what does Hyde gave to say on this matter?" Henry jerked as if goosed and stared at her for a moment before answering in a stumbling fashion, adjusting his loosened tie and avoiding her gaze. "He says that a," He broke off clearing his throat, "That I cannot even get the better of him and so I should-" He winced again and directed a painful smile in the vampiress's direction, Hyde's advise was obviously not going to be helpful. "Well, I should turn in. Good night, Ms. Harker."
Jekyll was nearly to the door when he heard Mina's voice behind him, "Good night, Henry, sleep well." He paused with one hand on the intricately carved doors, head bowed slightly. "Good night, Mina."
Jekyll walked slowly back to his room, thinking was slightly difficult with Hyde making snide comments. But, even if he could not ignore him, he had nearly learned to live with it. Live with me do you? You'd be sniveling under your covers without the backbone I give you. If it weren't for me, you'd be just the weeping runt that you are. "Do not forget Edward, that is was I who made you." Jekyll growled softly to the gruff voice in his head.
Ha, then why don't you unmake me then? You can't can you? Because you're too weak, Henry, you need me now. Jekyll did his best to tune out the laughing. If not used to it, then partially numb to it. He made himself slow down from the fast pace he had set. It might draw attention practically running through the halls of the Nautilus. Taking a slight detour to check on Skinner, Jekyll finally made it to his own room.
He slowly undressed and readied himself for sleep, he wasn't exceptionally tired, but he could read in bed for a while. There were times when he read and read and couldn't remember a thing. But then there were other times when he could lose himself in those pages. He loved to read, it was not exactly a secret among the League, though what they did not know was that he harbored a personal fondness for more than just his studies. Sometimes he wondered if the people who wrote books with daring adventures and narrow escapes had ever had to experience one.
It did not look to be so. In the books, they came close to death, but weren't afraid. They never lost hope, even when there had been none from the beginning. If this was how it was supposed to be, he had signed up for the wrong adventure. He should have known that from the beginning, should have know right at the moment when he had been captured instead of recruited and forced to join rather than asked. Not because he had been brave and saved countless people from evil or survived perilous situations without feeling the bitter ashes of being so petrified he could scarcely make himself breath properly; but because he had been too dangerous to leave running free and they needed the monster inside of him. He drifted off to sleep, sinking into a world of heroes, love and an ending that always turned out happy.
Mina felt some of the tension ease from that irritating spot in her neck and shoulders after she talked with Henry. Knowing that you were not the only one to be fretting over their next mission-or to be exactly accurate, their original mission-was not as good as seeing that other league members were as edgy as her. Not the best way to be comforted, but then again, misery loved company. It may have been the whole reason the League kept from strangling each other when they were confined to the Nautilus, they were able to commiserate with each other.
She stayed a while in the library, but she did not feel much like reading. Walking was the real thing that put her mind to rest. Talking to Henry did the work of a nice long walk, and she was feeling loose enough to sleep now. On the way back to her room, she stopped by Henry's room. Armed with book of course, just in case he was awake. It would not do to get caught looking for him when she knew him to be in his room; the book would provide a reason. She had seen him reading it the other day.
For some reason unknown to her, he seemed to pick it up a bit hastily, he had set aside the one he had been reading and started to read seemingly the first his hand came into contact with. It had been several days ago when they had spent several hours in the library reading. He had been engrossed with it after a few pages she thought, so she must have mistaken his hastiness for eagerness. But the history of political science did seem a rather dull topic, but uncannily like him.
Mina did not have to worry, the good doctor was fast asleep. A book lay open on his chest and his eyes were closed. Oddly, a small smile rested on his face and his breaths were even and deep. She might never admit it to anyone, but it was not the first time she had checked up on him. His sleep was, by and large, broken and restless. But if he had found something to help him sleep, then it put her to ease. If he was not worried, then neither was she.
As predicted, it took just over a week to reach the northeastern part of Brazil. The Nautilus rose offshore with a blast of white spray. They were not able to go right to the beach of course, there were not natural bays or harbors they could dock at. All of the crew except for those who rowed the boats ashore stayed onboard until they could decently hide the vessel and a group of them could station themselves on land to assist their captain had he any need of them. The boat's keel thudded mutedly into the wet sand of the coast and they exited without noise. It was not far from here that the beasts had been sighted.
They stood in a circle on the beach, none voiced any opinions and a slightly awkward silence reigned for a moment before Allan began. "I don't need to tell any of you what to do. You know we must get rid of him or them, we aren't sure how many of them there might be." He stopped for a moment, looking not quite sure of how to proceed. Mina seemed to know what he was trying to say and she finished for him. "As you know, we were not intended to actually work together, M anticipated us to die in…recent events. What I and Mr. Q are trying to say is that we might not be welcome. We might be seen as a threat every bit as great as the one that is plaguing the people here."
"So watch out for yourselves if we get separated. I know how dangerous they can be." Jekyll had a gleam of determination and resolve shining brightly in his eyes.
"Pair up and keep a sharp eye." Nemo's black eyes crinkled in a warm smile that fell on all of them. It seemed that he and Allan shared the self-appointed joint position of father figure to the League.
"Keep your noses clean, chaps. Wouldn't want the people to send out news that more creatures are attacking them." Mina cast a half-hearted glare at Skinner at his use of the word creatures.
Tom grinned and shouldered his rifle, coming to stand next to where he judged the thief to be, summing up everyone's words with a grin and simply spoken works. "Keep your heads low. Happy hunting."
As a group they started for the distant line of trees. A dense, tropical forest was their destination. Somewhere hidden inside that tangle lay not only a string of villages and towns, but also several individuals that had gotten their hands on their governments highly expensive samples of a highly dangerous formula…courtesy of Henry Jekyll. How it had gotten out this far in the jungle and out of their governments control was beyond the imagination of anyone in the League. Though if it was a secretive branch, it very well could be that they had not gotten very far. Undisclosed branches of military defense against more than just other armies would not have set up their bases in plain city view. That and the fact that M may have other center of operations in different countries. A bit unlikely, but nothing was beyond belief now.
The weather was mild; warm with a cool breeze blowing off the water. Tom thought it was the perfect weather until they stepped into the jungle forest and the humid heat hit him like a kick in the face. It was like his own Southern summers only worse…much worse. He undid a few of the buttons of his shirt to let some air in, if there was any.
Sadly, the only breeze was from him and the rest of the League's breathing. "I'll eat my coat if I couldn't wring a pail of water out of the air." Skinner's voice sounded right next to his ear, spoken low, but it still made Tom flinch in surprise. The agent groped at his side in an attempt to cuff the thief, but a rustle in the leaves announced that he had danced back out of reach. Tom swiped at where Skinner pushed back leaves and made soft impressions in the springy loam that made the floor of the jungle.
A snigger gave him away and Tom found his mark, right between the invisible man's shoulders. He somersaulted rather ungracefully until a tree halted his roll. Tom smirked and made his way over to help the thief up, but he was seized by the collar of his jacket. Allan fumbled about until he snatched up Skinner by the scruff of his neck. He shook them both lightly before dropping them. "Stay alert, children." Skinner snorted, though softly so as not to invoke the hunter's wrath. "I'm not a child, I'm old enough to be Tom's uncle." It was Mina's turn to roll her eyes at the thief, "Please, you are hardly old enough to be his uncle. Maybe an older cousin or-." She seemed to realize what they were debating was entirely childish and left off with a snort of frustration.
With a final warning glare at Tom and Skinner, Allan fell into the line ahead of the mock guilty duo. All who were within hearing range fought grins and chuckles as Tom's whisper was heard in the sudden hush, "Hey Skinner, how old are you?"