A/N: While not strictly true to the book, the 1989 movie version starring Pierce Brosnan, Julia Nickson and the inimitable Eric Idle has always been a favorite of mine. Their portrayals color my characterizations in part, and some of the references are based on the movie.
Slightly fluffy/clichéd, and nothing particularly deep, but I wanted to see the last chapter of the book fleshed out more. Seems few have written AWED fic, so my imperfect self had to try. Bonus points to whomever can spot the Holmes reference.
Disclaimer: Aouda, Phileas and Passepartout and the fabulous tour all belong to Monsieur Verne. I am but borrowing their shades.
The sun was well in the sky when Phileas awoke, staring bemusedly at the mantelpiece clock awash in rays.
Ten o'clock? Impossible!
He should have been shaved and dressed by now, and halfway through his daily 25-minute perusal of the papers. Why hadn't Passepartout awakened him, if the blasted clock had failed to ring this morning? He'd have to hurry if he wanted to arrive at the Club in time for –
The sight of the black waves of hair next to him abruptly cut off Phileas' growing panic, and thoughts of the Reform Club faded quickly from his mind. Aouda. He relaxed and sank back into the pillows, closing his eyes to savor the light jasmine scent of her hair, the slow, even sweep of her breath. It was she who had disengaged the clock's alarm mechanism, he remembered, her eyes sparkling with mischief.
"You may want a bit of a lie-in tomorrow," she'd whispered before turning down the gaslamps.
A smart rapping at the door broke into Phileas' reverie. He slipped quickly out of bed, careful not to disturb Aouda, and shrugged into the first dressing gown that came to hand. The old Phileas Fogg would have taken the time to find and put on the one he customarily wore on Tuesdays, but the new Phileas no longer cared. What did it matter? Why had it ever?
He opened the door onto a beaming Passepartout, cautioning him to speak softly. The valet was clearly excited, his shining eyes and flushed face bearing no sign of the anxiety and then festivities of the past several days.
"Yes, what is it?" Phileas asked.
"Monsieur Fogg!" exclaimed Passepartout, struggling to keep his voice to a whisper, "I've just discovered - " He paused.
"- that we could have circled the world in only seventy-eight days!" the valet finished proudly.
Phileas did not answer right away. Yes, he had realized this, had reflected on it frequently since his heart first began to stir in Aouda's presence. Altering his route would have shortened his journey. It also would have made his life very different; or rather, the same as it had ever been. At first he had regretted ever entering India, desperate to stop the emotions that threatened the well-oiled, regulated machinery of his life like grit in a fine instrument. He thought he had regained control after their brief "chat" on the shadowy deck of the General Grant, but the persistent memory of her kisses during the remainder of the journey only proved how meaningless it was to resist, and how providential he had chosen to press on through the Indian jungles.
"Of course," he said finally. "By not crossing India. But if I had not crossed India, I would not have rescued Aouda; she wouldn't have married me, and…"
Phileas trailed off at the thought, and, completely forgetting Passepartout, closed the door gently.
I would have been alone the rest of my life.
He turned around to gaze at Aouda, one slim brown arm folded under her chin while the other curved round her head. She looked so peaceful, unlike –
He blushed at the sudden memory of the previous night, and Phileas found himself intensely grateful that the servants' quarters were located in the opposite corner of the house. He had occasionally caught flashes of the tiger within Aouda's dark eyes before, but last night it had been unleashed in its full, ferocious glory.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Phileas reached down to gently stroke her face. Without opening her eyes, Aouda caught his fingers while her other hand found the back of his neck, drawing him down to her for a kiss.
A familiar glimmer of amusement sparkled in her eyes when at last they drew apart.
"And what, Phileas?" she asked, a smile teasing one corner of her mouth.
So she hadn't been asleep after all. Little minx. Disrupting his routines and now eavesdropping. He'd have to do something about that.
"And…I would never have known it was possible to go round the world in a single night, my dear," he replied, bending down to explore the hollow of her throat with his lips. Her arms tightened about him in response, and suddenly he found himself on his back looking up at her face, framed by the rich curtain of her hair and alight with love and laughter. When she spoke, her voice was low and full of ripening promises.
"Shall we take another tour, then?"
Outside, the sun continued to climb while the mantelpiece clock ticked on, blissfully ignored.
Comments, critiques, questions, and seemingly minor quibbles about spelling appreciated!