"Ah, Rebecca, you do have an uncanny talent to fall into trouble." Phileas Fogg chuckled, as he stepped out of the carriage and turned to offer his hand to his cousin.

Rebecca looked aghast as she swatted away his hand. "Really, Phileas! You should be one to talk." She hopped out of the carriage, landing lightly, managing to be the lady even while making such an unladylike move.

Jaw dropped, Phileas watched her walk pass and up the walk to his town house in Burlington Gardens. "Rebecca!" he chided, doing his very best to sound devastated at such an implication that he, Lord Phileas Fogg, was a man of trouble.

"Besides, you can hardly blame me for this little endeavor." Rebecca continued, waving a hand in the air as she continued. "It was, after all, your' favorite opera."

Her cousin huffed. "Well, I suppose I should elect for a new favorite... since, after your ever so lady like behavior, I will never be welcomed back to that particular show."

Jules Verne laughed, drawing the attention of both Foggs.

Standing a little straighter, his jaw setting, looking very stern, despite his own amusement, Phileas Fogg demanded "Ah, Verne... and what do you find so amusing?"

Verne leaned back against the carriage. "Admit it, Fogg, you had more fun than if you were allowed to watch the show in peace." Not waiting for an answer, he quickly turned to the other. "And, Rebecca, that's exactly why you started that brawl."

Passpartout hurried pass them all to open the door for them. "He-he, bestest show, yes!" he giggled.

Phileas and Rebecca looked at each other, equally amused and equally a little disturbed that their two friends knew them so well.

"Hmmm... well..." Rebecca slapped her silk gloves across the palm of her hand. With no possible honest rebut, she flashed that disarming smile she was so famous for and turned back to the house.

Hands on hips, Phileas huffed. But, as his cousin and valet slipped into the house, safely out of sight, even he smiled. Waving a hand back, he continued on to his home, calling "Come along, Verne. The night has been quite long en..."

Something suddenly smashed into the back of his head, slamming him forward.

Stunned and hurt, Phileas fell forward, falling hard to his knees. He threw his hands out, catching himself before he hit, face first, against the cold, hard stone of the walk.

"No!" some faraway voice he vaguely recognized as Verne's yelled.

"What the bloody..." Phileas growled, his rattled mind finally figuring out that someone had hit him.

But, before he could respond in like, that someone hit him again, slamming something hard across his shoulders.

Fogg fell down across the stones.

"Stop!" Jules screamed, leaping on the back of his friend's attacker.

"Good heavens!" Rebecca cried. Alerted by Jules yelling, she had returned to the door to see her cousin on the ground, trying to shake his head clear, and Verne dragging an aging man armed with a plank away from Phileas. Instantly, her derringer was in her hand. "Passpartout! Come quickly!" she called, hurrying down the walk.

"Get off of me!" the attacker roared, slamming about and jerking out of Verne's grasp. Free, he quickly turned back to his victim, completely ignoring Rebecca's armed charge.

But Verne quickly ran in front of him, holding his arms out, putting himself between the attacker and the dazed Phileas. "No, Father! Stop!"

Rebecca skidded to a halt, her head tilting to one side, her jaw dropping. "What did you call him?" she inquired, really, really wanting to be wrong. She really, really wanted to shoot that man!

"Get out of my way, Jules!" the attacker snarled.

"No!" Verna yelled back. "What has gotten into you!"

"You are my son and you will do as I tell you!"

"What the bloody hell is going on!" Phileas demanded, finally gaining enough of his senses to force himself to his feet. Spinning about, his fists doubled up, ready to beat the life out of whatever coward dared to attack him!

But Rebecca quickly laid a restraining hand on his arm. "No." she cautioned in a hushed tone. "It's Jules' father."

"Father!" Phileas exclaimed, his eyes snapping down to stare at her in disbelief.

"What are you doing here?" Verne wanted to know.

"What am I...?" the elder Verne barked. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you in school?"

Jules hesitated.

The attacker threw his weapon aside. "Enough! I am tired of your excuses, your worthless exploits!" he roared, taking a menacing step toward his son. "You are a worthless, waste of blood!"

"Now hold on there!" Fogg started, but Rebecca again stopped him.

"I work hard to pay for your schooling!" Mr. Verne continued. "There is a sign waiting to be raised at my offices... Verne and Son! yet here you are, wasting time and money to be with... with... Englishmen!"

The last word was spat out with such venom, the Foggs looked at each other wondering just exactly what had the English done to deserve such hatred.

"A writer's life, is that what you want? Full of adventure and riches? Is that what this dandy has promised you?"

"Dandy!" Phileas was not at all pleased with such a description.

"He's promised me nothing but friendship." Jules returned. "I was a writer long before I ever met the Foggs. They have nothing to..."

Mr. Verne shoved a finger in his son's face. "You will come, return with me this instant! You will abandon this penniless fantasy! You will never mention this failed venture of artistic stupidity!"

"Father..." Jules tone taken on a note of pleading.

"You will return to school! You will become a lawyer and you will live out your days as I have set them out before you!"

Jules shook his head.

His father was quick to swing a fist in the air, striking down the protest, while roaring "You will not argue with me! You know what will happen to you if you argue with me!"

Now, that was something Rebecca was not going to stand back for... father or no father. "And, pray tell, just what would that be?" she inquired, taking a meaningful step of her own forward.

The elder Verne's eyes snapped up to smolder into the two Foggs. "And you!" he snarled. "You will never approach my son again... or you will not get up from our next encounter!"

Phileas raised one eye brow. Still dazed, he certainly knew a threat when he heard one. "I beg your pardon?"

"Not given!" the man snapped. He snatched at his son's arm.

But, to his surprise, Jules stepped back.

Enraged, Mr. Verne's fists doubled up again. "Don't you oppose me, boy! I will beat you down like the worthless, mutt you are." His rage doubled when Jules still did not move to obey. Stepping back himself, he threw a finger at the ground beside him and screeched "You will come with my this instant! Or you will never come with me again! Do you understand? It is me or it is nothing! No home, no money, no family, no name, no father... my son will be dead to me!" His voice lowered to a deep snarl. "It is now... or never! Choose!"

"Never." was Jules whispered answer.

This time it was the elder who hesitated. Turning his head just slightly, and looking at his son out of the corner of his eye, he wanted to know "What did you say?"

He had had enough. The childhood beatings, the constant ridicule, the unbreakable grip, the pain, the fear... Jules Verne snapped.

"Never!" he yelled. His own fists doubling up, he leaned towards the man. "Never! Never! Never!" He waved a hand in the air. "I will never go back with you! I will never be what you want me to be! Do you understand? NEVER!"

Shocked beyond thought, Mr. Verne stumbled back.

"Do you hear me?" Jules continued. "I don't ever want to see you again! Never again!"

"Now, you listen to me, boy..."

"No! I'm not a twelve year old kid any more." Jules pointed out, still yelling uncontrollably. "You can't hurt me anymore! You don't own me! You will never make me go with you!"

With every word, Mr. Verne backed away until he was standing in the middle of the street. He had never fathomed that his pushover of a son would have the courage, the nerve to stand up to him.

"Never!" Jules yelling had turned to screaming. "Never!"

"Jules!" Rebecca cried, suddenly standing in front of her young friend. Cupping his face between her hands, she turned his eyes away from his father. "Enough, Jules. It is over." she assured softly.

He blinked at her, startled to see her. He had forgotten all together that any of his friends were near by, muchless standing at his side, backing him up, protecting him as they always did.

Phileas Fogg had moved up to stand between the father and son. "I do think it best if you leave now." he suggested to the elder. It wasn't much of a suggestion. Rebecca wasn't the only one who really, really wanted to shoot the man. And for more reason than bush wacking him.

Mr. Verne, his venom loss in the verbal assault from his very own child, made one last attempt at dignity. Declaring as he backed away "Fine! You can have him! See how well you like his profligate hide when you have to feed and cloth and educate the whelp!" That finalized, he spun about and ran out of the neighborhood.

"Humph." Phileas ran a hand over the back of his head, checking for any serious damage as he turned back to his friend. "Well that was just wonderful! Thank you ever so much, Verne..."

"Oh, Phileas, do shut up!" Rebecca snapped, not only silencing her cousin, but managing to make him feel guilty about his failed attempt at humor at that not so funny moment.

Jules stepped out of her grasp. "No." he quickly corrected. "Fogg is right, Rebecca." He turned to face Phileas. "My apologies, Fogg. I should of never..." he stopped as if that word had suddenly come to mean so much more than it had previously.

And then it hit him: never was an ever so long time.

His entire body began to tremble, his breath came quickly, his heart fluttered, his skin paled, his head felt light...

"Oh!" Rebecca cried as Jules began to sink right there in front of her.

"Damn it all to hell!" Phileas cursed, stepping forward with lightening moves and catching the boy before hit hit the ground.

Rebecca was, instantly, right beside him. She laid a hand over the unconscious Jules throat. After a second, she smiled with relief. "He just fainted." she informed her cousin.

"Really? I hadn't noticed." Phileas huffed. Despite his own soreness, he bent over and scooped Jules up into his arms. "I'm the one who was attacked unprovoked, yet it is he who gets carried to bed. Really, Rebecca, this is unfair."