A/N: This is the fruit of my new, bizarre fondness for The Mummy. For further forays into said field of fiction I think I will be using an alternate account. More later.

Disclaimer: The O'Connell family and Jonathan Carnahan (as well as a slightly sick ancient priest) are the property exclusively of whoever owns them - a person who is not yours truly.

With Variations on Theme

It has been four years. He lives in England, now, pestering his sister and engaging in general dissolution. Being fabulously wealthy for a while was delightful, but there was, oddly enough, something to be said for being dissolute when lacking the means to be so on a grand scale. There's not much left to crave.

When thoughts like these appear in the head of Jonathan Carnahan, he finds the sentences far too long and involved, and dismisses them as soon as he may.

One thing he does enjoy unreservedly is the small O'Connell who happens to be his nephew. Alex is a bright child – he picks up objectionable words at a rate which fills his uncle with profound awe.

"Precocious little blighter," he remarked once.

Evie, he'd found, reacted startlingly to praise of her child; motherly pride seemed to overwhelm any objection she had to hearing him referred to in such terms. "I know," she said.

"Huh. Complacency runs in the family," rumbled the larger O'Connell from the window. "I swear, the kid's gonna be reading before he's four, the way Evie's been with the books…Just 'cause she always had her nose in them, he's got to too."

"I prefer to believe," his wife replied severely, "that Alex has a naturally scholarly disposition."

"Uh-huh," he said, then grinned at her in fond amusement; the subject was dropped.

When Jonathan Carnahan is a little into his cups he grows jovial and maudlin by turns. In the former state he extemporizes on the wonders of Egypt and the riches to be had there; on his scattered adventures and dire odds; on his cricket exploits as a child and the occasional chase after the hounds; on the unpredictable adventures of his sister's child. (Spit and image of the old mum, I swear, and a holy terror. He gets into the kitchen and builds towers out of canned food – thing's a bloody leaning whatsit of Pisa! Of course it all falls over, and then he decides to use the pans as noisemaker…They listen to him because he is genial, and generous, good-humored enough to the meanest sycophant. Sycophants are new to him, and they have certain charms.)

But when he is a little farther gone the laughter disappears – he speaks slowly and then in rushes, about blind Americans and tombs and books that ought to stay lost; about fire and fallen flesh and gold in the dark; about his sister, gone, and helplessness, and a hundred poor souls with their minds lost to evil. He describes comets and blood and sand, and shudders while he does so. (It was a bar, you know, just a normal one in a hotel. We were all sitting there, and then the fountain ran red. Have you ever seen much blood, old man? It's not a pretty sight…it filled the glass of every man there. It splattered on the floor – the floor was so light, it was easy to see. Bloody…bloody mad. I've had enough of it.)

Then he sits a little straighter and thumps his glass down; he touches a spot on his shoulder that still hurts, sometimes, as calls for another round of drinks. He tells the story, but not the same way. He wasn't terrified out of his wits; no, no, nothing's left to haunt him. He's a damn hero, that's what. Put that priest blighter back in the grave.

He takes a genial leave, and stumbles home; sings out of tune as he jams his key in the lock. The apartment is empty, as always; he hangs his jacket by the door. Perhaps he'll splash water of his face, take a shower, hope for less of a hangover in a few hours. Perhaps.

It has been four years. It is Anno Domini nineteen hundred thirty; his name Jonathan Philip Carnahan; his sister is Evelyn Rose Carnahan O'Connell; her husband is Richard something-or-other O'Connell; their child is named Alexander.

And he thinks, in bouts of melancholy: they are all I have.

But as he washes his face and drops his tie on the settee, he knows he is auxiliary. He drops in to dinner, looks after the child when Evie feels lenient; potters in and out of their life with little heed on his side or theirs. He belonged to Evie for twenty-three of her years, whether she wanted to admit to him or not; he belonged to her as a wastrel and erratic protector. Now he belongs to her third, and feeling like a dependent relative in one of those blasted old novels, he tries not to presume too much on the connection.

And it's not as though he's doing anything with himself – life is what it was before, just on a rather more expensive scale and without grubbing about in the sand after bits of rock. Evie's a parent, a lady…Jonathan Carnahan does not entirely like being a waste of space, but it is the easiest thing, one profession eternally open. Nothing to commit, no alarm to set, no reason to wake up.

So, he sets himself to be a highly-colored wastrel; a wastrel spectacular. It nearly works.

Sometimes, climbing into bed, he remembers that reading ancient Egyptian once came in handy; that he once made a monster mortal. That at least a little of the present happiness he observes is due to him…it helps him fall asleep.

He sleeps until the next day has long since dawned; it is bright out, and he has a headache.

And he thinks: Repeat, with variations on theme.

Finis