Disclaimer: I own no one from National Treasure! Just the movies that I am basing this story on.
Author's Note: Hey, guys! Sorry for the bit of a delay with this chapter. I'm approaching midterms, so my free time has been a bit scarce as of late. But, thanks for hanging in there! The hunt is definitely in full swing now as the race between Ian and Richard continues. Who will get to the prize first? Well, we'll have to continue to find out! Enjoy!
Richard stepped through the front door of his large house after Gerald, his ever faithful butler, opened it for him. It was a relief to be home after the long plane ride. He set his suitcase down as Joel walked in after, setting his own bag down next to his employer's, and they both watched as Gerald took them both and began to bring them upstairs.
"What are we doing here exactly?" the burly man asked. "I thought we were looking for that mirror that belonged to Dracula or something."
A small smirk appeared on the older man's face as he looked back at his hired hand. "We are, Joel," he answered calmly as he started to slowly limp his way up the same staircase Gerald had disappeared up only a couple of minutes before. "I'm not exactly sure what was on those missing diary pages that Ian managed to retrieve before we did, but regardless, he's intelligent enough to figure out that the next stop is here in England. However, we have an advantage that he does not. Come, I'll show you."
Joel waited until Richard got a little further up the steps before he began to follow him, slowing his pace to match the other man's until they reached the second floor. Richard then led him down the hallway until they came to a set of tall, double doors, and they entered the familiar room that was his study. The younger man crossed his arms and looked around at the shelves of books and artifacts with disinterest as the man who hired him made his way across the room to the desk that sat beneath the window. He pulled a cigarette out of the packet of his dress pants followed by a lighter, taking a hit off it as he pulled open the drawer. Joel watched as Richard dug around inside for a few minutes before he pulled out a thin book and held it up as he exhaled some smoke.
"Do you know what this is?" he wondered.
The younger man shrugged slightly. "No."
Richard smiled as he brought the cigarette back to his mouth. "This is the key to finding what we need," he told him.
Joel looked at the worn gray cover doubtfully for a moment before he arched an eyebrow. "I thought that Ian had the journal that you needed," he muttered.
"He does have the journal of our ancestor, yes," Richard admitted. "But this... this is a bit more recent. It's a servant's journal that I've come across in researching our ancestry." The look on the older man's face suddenly turned somewhat sinister. "And I'm sure you'll find it to be very insightful."
The next plane departing Transylvania to where the group needed to go wasn't until later in the afternoon. This gave Ian and his colleagues as well as Ben and his family plenty of time to pack up and prepare for the trip back to England. Fortunately, this also gave Phil more time to rest up before they took off. Clara was enthused about going back there since they hadn't been able to see too much of the country when they had been there a couple days for their layover, but the rest of her family was looking forward to the trip ahead with a much more somber attitude.
But it did appear that all of them were eager to leave Transylvania. When they finally got their tickets sorted out and boarded the plane, Ian sat near the back with Nick, Powell and Phil behind him. The latter man had to sit in the aisle seat so he could stretch his legs out a bit more to catch some more rest. Ian hated to drag him along when he was still regaining his strength, but he had no choice since leaving him behind was certainly not an option. Abigail and Riley were sitting in the seats across from him and his stepbrother, Ben and Clara making themselves comfortable in the seats ahead of them. It only seemed like they just got settled in before they were preparing for take-off.
Night fell a few hours after, and Phil and Powell were sleeping soundly, though the former had been asleep for most of the trip. Ben and Abigail both appeared to be sleeping peacefully, though Clara seemed a bit restless and Riley appeared adamant not to fall asleep until he finally lost the battle against his heavy eyelids. Ian glanced at Nick, who had fallen asleep looking out the window next to him before he sighed quietly and rose to his feet, reaching up and carefully digging around for his carry-on bag so he hopefully wouldn't wake those around him. Fortunately, he was accustomed to being the last to allow himself to sleep, if he slept at all. He finally found what he was searching for and pulled it down, balancing the bag on his knee and quickly glancing around at the sleeping members of his group before he pulled out the journal of his ancestor along with the missing pages. The blond Brit set the bag back up on the shelf before he returned to his seat, taking a deep breath as he opened the worn book and began to search for where the missing pages belonged.
It took quite a bit of time, just how long was unclear to him, and Ian rubbed his tired eyes and leaned his head back against the seat when he finally had the puzzle all figured out. But then, his brow furrowed slightly as he reached into his leather jacket and pulled out the folded page that he had been keeping close to him since they looked them over in Transylvania, the one with the strange numbers that only he knew about. He smoothed out the creases as best as he could and turned the page over, reading over the seven lines of numbers again. He knew they had to have some significance, but what that was, he wasn't sure yet.
Shaking his head slightly since he was too tired to think about what they could possibly mean at that time, Ian carefully opened the journal once more and began to flip through the faded pages to try to find where the final page went. But he didn't get the chance.
"No... no... Go away..."
Ian paused when he heard the frantic mutterings from across the aisle, and his eyes narrowed slightly as he looked across from him and noticed that Riley's face had turned quite pale as he tossed and turned in his seat, his hands raised slightly in front of him as he tried to fight away some unseen foe. Sighing, the Englishman folded the page containing the short entry again and slipped it back into his jacket, shutting the journal as he rose to his feet to put it back in his bag. He had just pulled it down and set the book inside, closing the bag again and preparing to return it to the shelf, when something in the techie's continuous murmurings made him pause.
"Stop... please... Go away... Shaw..."
Ian felt some of the color leave his face as he slowly turned to look over at Riley, who even in his sleep appeared to be absolutely terrified of his now named adversary– his own former right hand man.
Setting his jaw firmly, the blond Brit was finally able to lift his carry-on bag and set it back on the shelf above him. He then sank back into his seat beside his younger stepbrother with a heavy sigh, closing his eyes for a brief moment as he leaned back against the headrest and attempted to block out Riley's frantic mumblings. They brought back memories that he found himself not wanting to have, ones he knew he couldn't have if he was going to remain focused in the race against his father.
Then, Ian saw that Clara was starting to stir out of the corner of his eye, and he quickly closed his eyes again just as she started to sit up in her seat. He listened closely while his niece turned and tried to gently wake the techie, which she succeeded in doing when he heard the younger man gasp.
The fifteen-year-old jumped slightly, startled by Riley's abrupt wakening as he looked around them in fear. "It's okay, Uncle Riley," she muttered, her eyes narrowing a little in concern. "We're not in any danger here."
A few more moments passed before the techie took a deep breath, allowing himself to relax as he slumped in his seat slightly. "N-no big deal, Clara," he was finally able to reply, giving her a weak attempt at his trademark grin. "I'm fine."
Clara rolled her eyes as a quiet chuckle escaped from her. But then, she glanced at her parents before she turned her gaze to her four uncles sitting across the aisle from them, ensuring that they were all asleep before she turned back to Riley. "Can I ask you something?"
Riley's eyes narrowed slightly as he passed a hand over his face. "Sure, what's up?"
The girl leaned a little closer to him. "Who's Shaw?" she wondered. "I heard you muttering about him last night too."
If possible, the techie's face turned a few shades paler. "Oh, uh..." he managed to mutter before he laughed a little. "Shaw was this guy who used to work with your parents and I. He was a good friend of Ian's."
Clara glanced across the aisle at her British uncle, and she was startled to see that his body seemed to have stiffened slightly. But then, realizing that she was probably just seeing things, she turned back to Riley. "And you were afraid of him?" she pressed.
Surprisingly, this made Riley laugh. "I don't know anyone who wasn't afraid of him, Clara," he said. "Except perhaps for Ian, of course. And possibly Nick and the others. They just got used to him, I suppose. But believe me, my little bundle of joy. Being afraid of him was probably the smartest thing to be when it came to him."
The fifteen-year-old nodded slightly, but then she sighed. "If he's such a good friend of Uncle Ian's, where is he now?" she asked. It surprised her that he wasn't traveling with the blond Brit.
Riley's gaze faltered. "Well, uh, literally speaking, we're not quite sure," he finally answered, causing confusion to pass over his niece's face. "But he, uh... died quite a few years ago. Before you were born."
Clara's face fell as she turned to Ian again, watching him for a few moments while he slept. She instantly felt terrible for him. "That's awful..."
"Yeah." But then, Riley leaned toward her a little and lowered his voice. "If I were you, Clara, I wouldn't mention this to Ian at all. I think it would be best if he didn't know that we were talking about Shaw."
The fifteen-year-old nodded, but she kept her eyes on the Englishman. The techie sighed, causing Clara to glance at him as he rose to his feet. "I'm gonna run to the bathroom," he explained when he saw her questioning look. "Get some sleep."
"Okay, Uncle Riley." Clara watched as he disappeared through the door into the small bathroom at the back of the plane before she once more turned back to Ian. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw that the blond Brit's own eyes were already open as he looked back at her. It wouldn't have surprised her if he had heard the entire conversation. She started to open her mouth, but to say what she wasn't quite sure other than some sort of apology, but she stopped when Ian shook his head slightly. He then put a finger to his lips, and the girl sighed when she had no choice but to nod in response as she tried to find a comfortable spot in her seat again before she closed her eyes.
But just like the Englishman, she knew that she wouldn't be getting any more sleep that night.
The rest of the flight was relatively uneventful. After everyone else woke the next morning, they were given a decent-sized breakfast, which the entire group greatly appreciated. Both Clara and Riley appeared to be visibly exhausted from their lack of sleep, while Ian, who was more accustomed to sleepless nights, appeared to be determined to focus on the journey ahead as he glanced over the newly added pages to the diary one more time.
"So, what's the plan?" Ben asked, leaning in the aisle to speak with the blond Brit easier.
"Well, Riley's cleverness with a computer will lead us to our next destination," Ian answered as he glanced up at the treasure hunter. "As for everything else, leave that to me. With my connections all over England, I'll arrange the accommodations."
The techie smirked. "Well, I suppose that's one of the upsides to having a Brit in the group," he muttered, causing Ian to roll his eyes.
Once they landed in the familiar airport a couple hours later, nearly everyone was on guard. Since it could be assumed that Richard Howe had also left Transylvania after he had found nothing there, it could just as easily be assumed that he was also back in England to regroup and figure out how to proceed in his hunt. The fact that he didn't have any leads put their minds at rest except for Ian, who knew his father better than that. He knew that he always had some sort of option to enable him to keep playing, and he didn't think that this game would be any different.
Clara went with her British uncle to find and look over a bus schedule, clearly disappointed when she saw that it wasn't for a double-decker bus. "We're not going sightseeing, luv," the Englishman told her with a quiet chuckle. "Perhaps if we have time, I'll take you on one of the tours. If not, there is always next time."
The fifteen-year-old nodded slightly in response. But then, she sighed. "Uncle Ian?"
Ian briefly glanced up from the schedule curiously before looking back and checking his watch. "Yes?"
Clara watched him for a moment longer before her gaze faltered. "I'm sorry about your friend," she murmured.
The blond Brit stopped folding up the schedule, closing his eyes for a second before turning back to his niece. "That was a long time ago," he said quietly as he slipped the schedule into the pocket of his leather jacket. "And also nothing for you to concern yourself with. I actually wish that you didn't know that happened. It was... an unfortunate accident."
The girl opened her mouth to ask what happened, but she was stopped by her uncle setting his hand on her shoulder. "Don't dwell on that," he told her with a small smile. "There are other more important things that we have to think about now. Okay?"
Clara nodded, clearly not pleased with how the conversation had gone. But Ian said nothing more as he squeezed her shoulder before he walked back toward where the rest of the group was waiting for them. His niece slowly followed.
They didn't have to wait too long outside of the airport for the bus to arrive, though Ian had spent quite a bit of time on the phone as he arranged for a hotel. "It's nice to be back here, isn't it?" Nick wondered as he followed his older stepbrother onto the bus with his bags.
Ian smiled slightly as he glanced back at him. "Yes, Nick," he agreed, taking one of the available seats near the middle while the younger man sat across the aisle from him since the seat next to Ian was occupied by an elderly woman. "Though I wish that we could be here for a different reason."
Powell and Phil sat in front of their leader soon after. Ben and Abigail managed to find two seats a couple of rows ahead of Ian's group while Clara sat next to Nick and Riley sat behind his niece and the other man. The fifteen-year-old enthusiastically asked Nick a lot of questions about what everything was as they made their way through the city, to which he cheerfully answered. Ian smiled slightly as he watched them, able to see that his younger stepbrother was happy to be back in the second place that he called home.
But then, he smiled slightly when he saw the tall building that loomed before them. "Nick," he muttered.
Nick glanced back at him, noticing the smile on the older man's face before he looked out the window again, and a matching look appeared on his face when he saw the building himself. "Hey, cutie," he said, setting his hand on her shoulder and pointing. "This is the house that your Uncle Ian and I used to live in before we moved to the United States."
Clara smiled as she looked up at the two-story house too, her gaze traveling over the many-paned windows and the wooden trim. But then, her eyes narrowed slightly. "No one's living in it now?" she wondered.
Ian chuckled quietly when he saw the "For Sale" sign that sat on the front lawn in front of the house. He wasn't too surprised, knowing that he probably scared away the couple and their young son who had been living there when he had last visited England and started pulling up floorboards and revealed other secret compartments that he and Shaw had installed, all to try to locate the dagger that they still couldn't find. He sighed quietly, the smile on his face turning slightly somber.
"Guess not," Nick replied. Then, he smirked slightly as he turned to face his older stepbrother. "What do ya say, Ian? When we're done with this hunt, the two of us move back in."
Powell turned to look at the younger man, appearing to be offended. "Hey, now. What about me and Phil?" he pressed, to which the tallest member of their group nodded his agreement. "There's enough room for the four of us. We could all retire together." The smirk on his face, however, showed that he was just speaking in jest.
Ian forced his smile to broaden. "Sounds like a plan," he muttered, though he didn't appear to be fully in the conversation.
Riley, curious about where the blond Brit had used to live, glanced out the window, quickly looking over the house and finding that it was quite nice. But then, his eyes widened fearfully as he jumped back in his seat a bit and a startled sound escaped from him. Ian glanced over at him curiously while Nick turned in his seat to look back at the techie.
"Hey, Riley, two criminal masterminds may have lived in that house, but it's not that scary," he said.
However, Riley shook his head, looking back at the other man with fear in his eyes. "There was someone in the house!" he replied anxiously. "I saw them! I didn't get a good look, but someone moved past the window!"
Nick glanced at Ian with concern. "The house is empty, Riley," the latter gently reminded him.
The techie didn't say anything in response, but his light eyes kept darting toward the house nervously as they continued to pass it. Ian looked at it one more time himself, but just as he had told the younger man, the house was empty.
However, all of Riley's fear was forgotten about when they reached the fancy hotel that the Brit had managed to get for them, and he gazed at the large suite that lay before him. "Ian, I don't know who your connections are, and something tells me that I don't wanna know, but they sure know how to pick a hotel!"
Ian chuckled, silently agreeing that it was the best idea that the younger man didn't know who his connections were. After agreeing to meet with him and Ben in a few minutes once they settled in so they could go scout their next location, the Englishman led the way down the hallway to where the room his group would be staying in was and unlocked the door. The room was just as large as Ben's with a spacious living area with two couches and two bedrooms. Powell, Nick, and Phil agreed that Ian should get one of them, but who would get the second room was still up for debate. It didn't take long for them to settle on Phil, who was still recovering from his encounter with the deadly spider and appeared to be absolutely exhausted from the flight.
"That means we both get a couch, Nick!" Powell laughed, to which the younger man groaned with agitation. Ian, still not quite understanding the significance of his younger stepbrother having to sleep on couches, shook his head slightly as he went into his bedroom to set his bag inside.
Once he was unpacked a little, Ian made sure that Phil was okay as he settled in his own bedroom for a nap before he walked back into the living area to see that Powell had already turned on the television and Nick was stretched out on the couch that the Scotsman hadn't claimed. Glad that everyone seemed to be comfortable, the blond Brit left the room and walked down to the lobby, where he only had to wait for a few minutes for Ben and Riley. The techie had the coordinates from the missing diary pages programmed into his cell phone from his laptop, as well as set into his GPS, and the three men left the hotel and caught a taxi. After paying the driver more than he earned in a month, he agreed to follow the directions that Ian gave him.
"So, do you think this is like a house or something?" Riley asked quietly while the Brit continued to guide their way.
Ben shrugged. "At the time, I'm sure it was," he answered. "It was a place that Dracula visited this man at, so it seems the most likely case."
Riley sighed quietly. "Yes, but do you think it's a house now?" he rephrased his question. "It's been a long time since Dracula was here, Ben."
"That, I'm not sure." Ben worried his bottom lip thoughtfully between his teeth. "I'm hoping so. That would be the easiest..."
However, those hopes were dashed when they finally pulled up to their destination. Ian sighed as he ran a hand through his light hair. "Gentlemen, we have a... slight hinderance on our hands," he muttered.
Riley groaned quietly as he rested his head back against the seat while Ben stared straight ahead with resignation. The coordinates had led them to a large, popular shopping center.
Author's Note: Can't make things too easy for our favorite group of hunters, can we? Well, the good news is, Spring Break is a couple weeks away for me, so hopefully, I'll be able to update at least a little more frequently for a little bit. So, thanks for sticking with me! Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thank you!