Disclaimer: I do not own the Mummy. I do own Libby and Charlie.
"Mmmm," he heard her sigh, and Jonathan instantly sat up in his chair, sending it toppling over backwards. He felt his head crack against the floorboards of the guestroom. There'd be a lump there in the morning. Collecting himself, he stood up and moved closer to the bed where Libby was sleeping.
He'd hoped the sigh had meant she was waking. She wasn't.
Jonathan couldn't help but worry. Evy had reassured him that it was just a combination of dehydration and exhaustion that caused her to pass out, and the Medjai healer that traveled with Ardeth had confirmed it. Still, Jonathan couldn't push his fears completely aside. Bloody hell, she was out through the entire trip back to Cairo.
That had been a remarkable feat, not to mention one of the most humiliating experiences of his life. Unconscious, Libby still rode a camel better than he did.
They had returned to the family's home in Cairo, now devoid of dead mercenaries and cleaned of the destruction that had occurred only two weeks ago. Since then, he spent most of his time waiting for Libby to wake. He watched the slow rise and fall of her chest. She was alive, and he grateful for that. It was comforting to just sit here, watching over her, even more so than the holstered gun on his belt. They might have checked, double checked, and triple checked that Arabella was dead before they cremated her body, but he was certain he wouldn't be sleeping easy for a while.
The sound of the door knob turning jolted him from his thoughts, sending his hand straight to the holster. "Who's there?" he demanded. Call him neurotic, but he was done taking chances.
"Jonathan, you idiot! Why the hell are you locked in the bedroom with my sister? Are you trying to get killed?" His brother-in-law began impatiently pounding on the door. "Open this right now or I'm just going to assume the worst. You know that's what I'm going to do!"
Jonathan quickly unlocked the four locks on the bedroom door. Three of said locks had been installed right after the incident at Ahm Shere. As soon as the fourth clicked, Rick pushed the door open, trapping Jonathan between in and the wall.
He peered around the edge and stared down at the gleaming gilded-gold locks. "Four? Four locks? Jesus Christ, how long has that one been up?
"Just put the fourth up this morning!"
Rick frowned, looking up. He had dark circles around his eyes, his hair a bit oily and unkempt. "You need to get out of this room."
"Absolutely not. I just want to be here when she wakes up, old boy. Maybe sweep her off her feet a little."
"First off, no feet sweeping while I'm around. She's still my baby sister. Two, please tell me Evy and I weren't like this after I killed Imhotep."
"Just a tad worse, chum. You rode off into the bloody sunset on a camel," Jonathan added to the banter, feeling jovial for the first time in days. "Sickening, just sickening. Why are you up here?"
"Oh, you know, there's this woman… her name is Libby, she just happens to be my sister," he paused. "Jon, we're all worried about her. Believe me, I haven't had a decent night's sleep since we got back, and I won't until she's wandering around making jokes about me and you again. But you can't just sit holed up in this room waiting for the dead to come back and hurt her. What's done is done, and now we just have to give her time."
Leaning against the wall, Jonathan wanted to disagree, but knew he couldn't. "So what do we do instead?"
"Well, we still have to settle things with Libby's hotel. Ardeth already said he'd come with me to see if there's anything left to salvage. You should come too. Get out of the house for a little while."
Jonathan glanced over at Libby's sleeping form on the bed."She'll be here when you get back. Let's go." It wasn't a question now. With one last look, he followed Rick out of the room.
Libby stretched her arms far over her head, turning over on the soft mattress. She ran her tongue over her lips- they felt dried out and cracked. Each move made her unused muscles ache, but she didn't care. This bed was lovely, with its feathers and thick blankets and pile of pillows, and she thoroughly intended on enjoying every moment of sleep.
Wait a second… bed? Aren't we in the… She sat up quickly, feeling the blood rush to her head. It hurt, but she pushed the pain aside. The room was dark, with only a sliver of light shining through where the curtains didn't quire meet, and unnaturally clean. There were no dunes, no endless miles of sand covering hidden monuments. No Medjai warriors or dead mercenaries. No Jonathan.
She struggled to push the heavy blankets off of her and tentatively stood up, easing her feet slowly onto the floor. Libby felt surprisingly steady. She walked along the side of the bed, just to make sure she could move without faltering and stumbling. Her legs still worked- always a positive.
As she wondered where she was, the room began to look more familiar. She knew this mahogany sleigh bed, the well-worn artifacts that cluttered the shelves. She was in Cairo, in the guest room of Evy and Rick's house.
We beat Arabella! We must have! Libby thought, excitement filling her. Rick and Evy never would have left the desert if she was still alive. Relief flooded her for the first time in weeks. They were safe again, and they could move on with their lives.
There was nothing holding her in Egypt now. The hotel- well, there was no chance of reviving that business endeavor. Rick and Evy would hardly allow her to live on the streets, not that Libby even considered that an option. The obvious choice would be to follow her brother back to England and live with him. And while there were some clear benefits (namely, Jonathan); she'd been living independently nearly her entire life. Was she really ready to give that up?
What are you thinking woman? Of course you are. It was true. The past two weeks, though frightening, had been the most exciting and satisfying of her entire life. She'd had a family, people who cared for her, who were concerned for her well-being. There was no way she could give that up now.
"You're up! Thank God!" Libby jumped in surprise. She hadn't heard Evelyn enter the room, carrying a pitcher of water and some soup on a tray. The woman quickly put it down and wrapped Libby in a strangling hug. "And you're already walking around. You're lucky Jon isn't here, he'd toss you back into bed."
"I'm sure Rick would love that," Libby shot back with a smile.
"Oh, bugger, you know what I mean. ALEX! CHARLIE! Libby is awake!"
Outside the room, she heard two pairs of feet pounding on the floor up the stairs and the sound of shoving. Charlie entered the room first, his hair freshly cut and wearing new clothes. He waved awkwardly. It was evident he still didn't know how to behave within the group.
"AUNT LIBBBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYY!" the younger boy shouted, launching himself at her. Evelyn quickly moved between Alex and his aunt.
"Darling, your aunt just woke up. You're not to kill her today."
"But he can kill me tomorrow?" Libby asked with a smirk.
"I liked you better asleep," Evelyn deadpanned. Looking at each other, the two women broke into a fit of giggles. "Why don't you get cleaned up? I'll get you some of my clothes to wear. Then you can come downstairs with Alex, Charlie and I. We're doing a little work…"
After a good hour in the bath that Evelyn had drawn for her, Libby walked slowly down the stairs into the dining room where the rest of the family was sitting. Evelyn was pouring over papers, shuffling them methodically, as she sent Charlie in and out of the library on a search for textbooks she needed. Libby was surprised to see how happily the boy obliged Evelyn's every request. There was hope for him yet.
Alex was reading. "New book Alex?" she asked.
"South American pyramids. They're pretty interesting, not many of them have been explored yet," he replied, turning the page. "I'm going to be the first."
"Just don't raise any South American mummies, alright?" Libby replied with a smile as she took a seat, as well as the cup of coffee that one of the maids offered her.
"I make no promises." Libby smiled. Of course he didn't.
Evelyn sighed, rubbing her forehead. "What's the matter?" Libby asked, lighting a cigarette.
"Something… something has been bothering me since we returned home," Evy said, pushing her papers aside.
"Did something happen to Jon or Rick?" Libby asked quickly. She hadn't even thought to inquire about their whereabouts.
"Oh no!" Evelyn rushed to reassure her. "No, they're fine. They went to see what remained of your hotel. No, it's really quite silly."
"I'm sure it isn't. What is it?" Libby was concerned. What had happened?
"The seventh scorpion… it's still out there somewhere. And until we find it, we can't de… destroy… oh bugger, I still can't say it. It's killing me that we have to destroy the scorpions. They're priceless. Who knows what we could learn from them? They belong in a museum and not…"
"And not in the hands of a psychopath bent on destroying the world," Libby interjected gently, reminding Evelyn of what they had come so close to losing. As much as she'd come to love her sister-in-law, she definitely had issues with her priorities. "There are plenty of other tombs to be discovered, Evy. These little guys need to go the way of your buddy Imhotep. Straight to hell."
"I know, I know. I'm trying to translate this last clue, but just can't figure it out. These hieroglyphs are not in a single one of my books. They don't even look remotely like classical Egyptian hieroglyphs. How will we ever find the final one? We can't destroy them until all seven are united!"
Libby took the etching of the clue that Evelyn was attempting to read. She looked it over. The mix of curves and lines were unrecognizable, and contained none of the familiar images that graced the facades of the pyramids. "Maybe it's better that we don't find the last one? If it's lost to time, then there's no chance anyone will find it."
"It's an option," Evelyn replied, taking a book from Charlie as he reentered the room. "But what if someone discovers the seventh? It's only a matter of time before they realize we have the other six."
Libby understood all too well. "Well then. We best get to work and find where the last little bastard is, shouldn't we?"
"So when do you plan on leaving Egypt, my friends?" Ardeth asked, sitting comfortably in the back seat of Rick's car. Having successfully put the piece of property where the hotel once stood on the market, they were now nearing Rick's home. It was a rare moment between the three men, one where they did not have weapons drawn and ready.
"Soon as Libby is up and walking about again," Rick replied, sharply turning the steering wheel into the driveway. Ardeth watched in amusement as Jonathan slammed into the passenger side door.
"This is why you should let me drive Rick! You'll give me a sodding concussion one day!"
Rick looked to Ardeth for support, but found none. "It is quite disconcerting, O'Connell, that Jonathan drives better drunk than you do sober."
The happiness that had predominated the past few days with the O'Connells had come as a welcome change. Of course, among his people, there were moments of joy and laughter, but these moments were almost always tempered by some underlying worry. Would the group of men on patrol arrive home safely? Would they find a new water source before the current was depleted? Here, among the O'Connells, Ardeth Bay had discovered the capacity to let his guard down.
Rick screeched the car to a stop, sending Ardeth flying forward. Jonathan grabbed him by the back of his robes, preventing him from imminent death through the front window. "Never again will I drive with you, O'Connell," he muttered as he exited the car.
On the front steps of the house, Evy and Alex stood waiting, looking remarkably suspicious. "Hello, darling husband of mine!" Evelyn shouted to them as she descended the steps.
"What did you do?" Rick asked suspiciously, voicing the question that had been running through Ardeth's head.
"We have a surprise for you!" she said excitedly. "Charlie!"
The red haired boy appeared through the door, leading a now-awake Libby. Ardeth felt himself breathe a sigh of relief that the woman had recovered. Now he felt he could return to his people. He hadn't wanted to go far from the O'Connells until Libby woke, in case her condition got worse and they needed the Medjai healer.
"LIBBY!" Jonathan shouted, sounding like a small child seeing their favorite relative. He shoved aside all those who stood between him and the door out of his way to get to her. Ardeth watched as he pulled Libby into his arms and kissed her soundly.
Somewhere nearby, he heard Rick whisper to Evelyn, "I will not be dealing with this all the time."
Deep inside, Ardeth felt the slightest twinge of jealousy towards Jonathan. He was not in love with Libby, of that he was absolutely certain, but being chieftain of the Medjai had not allowed time for romance. Seeing what Libby and Jonathan shared made him feel slightly bitter. Still, duty reigned over all, and he would fulfill his duty until the day he died.
"What are you doing outside?" Jonathan said once he realized that she was standing outside. "Back to bed until you're fully recovered, love!" He easily picked her up, hauling her into the house. Ardeth saw Libby's face, mixed with shock and annoyance at being babied.
"Jonathan! You put my sister down! Right now!" Rick shouted, running behind his brother-in-law. "I swear if you step one foot in that bedroom, you're going to be a dead, dead man!"
Charlie hesitated before entering the house, giving Ardeth the chance to speak with him alone, for which he was glad. He was slightly concerned for what the red-haired boy would chose to do next in his life. In Charlie, he saw shades of Rick, and the potential to be a great warrior. Ardeth did not wish to see that wasted.
"Have you decided what you will do next?" he asked Charlie, taking him by surprise.
"I think I'm goin' to England. Rick and Evelyn said I could stay with them 'til I get on my feet, and I'm thinkin' of taking them up on that offer. No more runnin' for me, and no more takin' over the world. One near sacrifice is really enough for a lifetime."
"Surely it is," Ardeth replied, satisfied with Charlie's answer. Evy and Rick would ensure Chalrie had a chance to escape the life he had known.
With the knowledge that everything in Cairo had been settled, and that everyone in time would recover fully, Ardeth began preparations to return to his people. He'd been away from home far too long.
"Machu Pichu, a citadel in Peru, was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911…" Libby heard Alex read to her. She'd hoped pretending to be asleep would get him to go away. She was wrong.
When Jonathan had sent her to bed (and oh, how he was going to pay for bossing her around!), Alex had quickly volunteered to read her a story. Libby couldn't deny the kid anything, and figuring he would pick something amusing, she agreed. She quickly began to regret that decision. Apparently Evelyn's idea of a bedtime story was quite different than most normal people, because Alex was reading to her from his book on South American pyramids.
"I think Libby's asleep old boy," Jonathan said softly. Peaking through her tightly shut eyelids, she saw him leaning against the doorway, looking debonair as he ever had. "Why don't you head to bed? You can read her more tomorrow."
"Alright Uncle Jon!" She heard Alex leave the room and the door creak shut.
"You can open your eyes now, you faker," Jonathan said, taking a seat on the bed next to her. He wrapped an arm around her, and she kissed him softly.
"Faker? I believe what Alex was reading to me qualifies as torture. I had to escape somehow. Give me the book! I will show you how awful it was."
Flipping through the pages, Libby couldn't find quite the right page that Alex has read from. She was determined to prove to Jonathan how dry and boring the book was, and she was pretty sure that passage counted as a prime example. She slowed down, examining each page in hopes of finding what Alex had read. It was then that one of the photographs caught her attention.
The tall, thin piece of stone sat in the middle of a black and white jungle. Dense vegetation surrounded it, some vines creeping upwards, beginning to cover all the evidence that humans had ever been in the area. The photograph itself was very old and slightly blurry. But there was no mistaking what Libby saw.
The stone was covered in writing from top to bottom. Lines and curves, they were a perfect match to the etching of the final clue. There was no mistaking it. Somehow, someway these South American hieroglyphs had made their way to Egypt. Somehow the scorpion had made its way across an ocean. Whomever had hidden it must have been ingenious, to figure out such a way to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a time before steamboats and airplanes.
"You forget how to read, Libby-love?" Jonathan asked. She didn't reply, trying to decide whether or not she should share her revelation. To find the final scorpion would mean they could destroy them and assure the world would be safe. Still, she highly doubted that many within the general population would ever see this picture, and ultimately connect it to the scorpions. Besides, they had just barely survived this adventure. Was it really so wise to start a new one?"
"Libby, do you feel ill? Do you want me to leave?" Jonathan asked again, softly, moving off the bed.
Snapping the book shut and tossing it onto the floor, Libby grabbed him by the arm and tugged him back onto the bed. "Don't you dare even think about leaving this bed."
Jonathan smirked, rolling over and trapping her under his body. "Be careful what you wish for, love."
"Oh shush, you idiot. I'm sick, remember? You told me I had to go straight to bed and rest. This does not count as rest," she teased.
He kissed her, long and lingering, one hand brushing her hair away from her face while the other held him up. "Would you think me ridiculous if I said I was falling in love with you?"
"No. But we've only known each other for two weeks, Jon. Let's give it time, see where this goes before we say it."
He smiled. "Why not? We've got plenty of time to figure things out." He paused. "Sleep now. We'll talk more in the morning."
That they would, Libby decided as Jonathan pulled her against his chest. One thing that would not be coming up in that conversation, however, was the picture in Alex's book. Adventure could wait, as could saving the world. The world would be alright for the time being.
Libby had much more important things on her mind. Namely, one Jonathan Carnahan. And the adventure that came with falling in love with him, in Libby's opinion, would be more than enough to occupy her time.
And here lies the end of our adventure. I hope you all enjoyed the ending, as well as enjoyed reading the story. It has been a joy and a privilege to write it and share it with you all.
I especially want to thank all of you who read the story, favorite it, and put it on alert. It means so much to me that you enjoyed it this much. A very special thanks, as well as hugs and kisses, to those who took the time out of their busy lives to leave their comments and criticism:
Akatsuki4Ever, Alexandria Halliwell, American History Lover2009, Bella Danvers, Bmangaka, FemaleOfTheSpecies, Galasriniel, hansolofan, Hidden Relevance, InSpellWeaver, Johnnyfan122, Kedi, LazyChestnut, Len, Lift the Wings, Lindsay, Lucky Fannah, luckyducky09, Mizu-Magaru-Sensei, Mrs. Emery Waterman, Nelle07, nightangelx18, NightlyRains, Nyptunus, Opera-Gypsy, penName111, pottergirls, Psycho8, RileyPoole'sLittleWhiskeyGirl, ScarletsAngel, shadowxofxdarkness, Sky-Pirate325, Stargazing BasketCase, thatgirl0303, The Kiss of Death, The One And Only Charcoal, The Unknown Major, The Wicked PIrate Wench, TheSilverStar, Trinix216, TwiDawnLight, V EPSILON, vampiremistress2sexy, writerluv, Xanthiae
Your words and encouragement have meant more to me than you can imagine. This story was the first venture I'd made into writing a chapter story in YEARS, and your words have brought to me a new confidence.
There's a sequel in the works. It'll probably be a while before it's started. It's Ardeth-centric, and takes place during the early years of World War II. Your favorite characters will be back, including Libby and Charlie.
So for one last time, I ask you all to leave a review and tell me what you think. Really- it's the last chapter! You'll never have another chance! :-) I want to know what was good, what was bad, what could be improved! It'll only make the next story that much better.
Until our next adventure, I wish you all the best!