A/N: Sorry this took me FOREVER to update. I don't own anything.

Chapter One

The impeccably dressed man lounged in a wooden chair. His dark hair was combed back in a flattering coiffure and his eyeglasses were perched jauntily on the end of his aquiline nose. He held a newspaper in his hands and was reading it with relish. The narrative style of the author seemed to amuse him.

"Sayid, more tea if you please." The large manservant bowed silently out of sight. Sethos put the newspaper on the tea table beside him and stretched his cramped hands.

Sayid returned promptly with the asked for tea. Sethos nodded at him and the man slid out of sight again. Then Sethos returned to his paper.

It was Kevin O'Connell's interview with his illustrious Amelia about her adventures in the Sudan. It was the second, or perhaps the third time, Sethos had read it. O'Connell certainly wrote with panache. However, Sethos pondered the story Amelia had given the wily journalist. It seemed logical enough, and it definitely matched her vivid narrative skills, but perhaps it was the criminal in him that made Sethos not trust the account. It was too…perfect.

Languidly standing, he walked to the window of his flat, tea still in hand. He smiled at the chaos along the streets as he sipped at his nearly cold tea. Then he remembered the invitation sitting on the tea table under the discarded newspaper.

"Sayid?" He called. The man promptly appeared. Turning to face him, Sethos tangled a thoughtful finger through is immaculate hair.

"Do you think we could find some proper fancy dress by tomorrow evening?" The Master Criminal smiled.

The ballroom at Shepheard's was positively glittering, Sethos noted. Elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen whirled gracefully around the dance floor, or else, loitered around it, sipping champagne and socializing.

He had seen Emerson, dressed as Bedouin sheik, he supposed, exit the room almost the instant after he had arrived. It was all to the good, as he was able to watch Amelia exclusively.

She had entered the room conspicuously dressed, in trousers no less. As she passed him, he appraised her form, as did several other men (although she was too modest to notice). Sethos imagined she had gone for the 'young gentleman explorer' look, but the tailored jacket and fitting trousers did nothing but amplify her lovely figure.

He observed that she too, had passed an eye over his costume. He had come extravagantly dressed as a bishop of the Eastern Church. It had taken him a devil of a time to find a miter. But Sethos quite enjoyed the attention he received in his costume. He had made his choice in accordance with his evening's planned activity: observation. Besides, the confounded hat kept falling off and the crook would have undoubtedly wreaked havoc on the dance floor.

The night passed slowly, to him at least. Though to others, he surmised, the evening passed far too quickly. Feigning fatigue, he left a less than scintillating conversation with a couple of ladies and skulked over to the bar. He ordered a scotch and sipped it pensively, watching the dance floor.

A bar stool scuffle alerted him to a presence next to him. Emerson had ventured back into the room and ordered a whiskey and soda, then sat heavily down to Sethos's left. Sethos turned slightly toward the man and saw that his face formed a characteristic scowl as he watched his wife dance with a tall gentleman dressed as a pirate. Within a minute or two, his whiskey was drained.

"Another whiskey seems to be in order," Sethos said to his rival. Emerson turned to face him and raised his eyebrows at his empty glass.

"It would seem so," he said gruffly. Glancing over at Sethos's costume, he smirked. "Humph. You look like a right idiot. What possessed you to dress like that?" He gestured at the miter.

Sethos shrugged. Calling over the bartender, he said, "Whiskey for the gentleman and another scotch here." He stole a glance over at Emerson who was again looking over at Amelia. He looked wistful.

"I don't suppose I can complain about my costume with you looking like the bloody archbishop."

Emerson bit back a bark of laughter as he looked over Sethos's costume again. "Although I don't know why I keep consenting come back to this damnable dance. Bloody torture. Your wife make you come too?"

"Widower," Sethos said shortly. He took another sip of scotch. "Which one is your wife?"

"The only woman wearing trousers," he said with a small grunt. Emerson pointed at Amelia who was chatting with a couple of women. She was showing of her costume proudly, a smug smile on her face as she fingered one of the pockets on her jacket.

"Brave." Sethos nodded, eyes lingering on the sight. Emerson must have noticed his admiring look. His lips became a hard, thin line and he downed the last dregs of his drink.

"It's her confounded self-confidence, not bravery." Emerson slid from his stool and landed heavily on the floor. "I'd best be leaving this idiot display of extravagance." Another contemptuous look at Sethos's outfit. "I'm off to find some intelligent conversation." With that, he stalked off.

Sethos watched Emerson's way out of the ballroom, and then his eyes turned like a magnet to his beloved. Her face was flushed flatteringly and little tendrils of her dark, heavy hair had escaped her pith helmet. She gaily bowed back to her partner who gazed down at her with respect and a hint of amusement. He led her off the floor and to a chair where she collapsed gracefully with a laugh.

He caught a glimpse of a form that looked like Emerson's winding its way toward her. Amelia was talking animatedly with a distinguished older lady. The man stopped behind her, his tall imposing form throwing a shadow over her face. Sethos could not see the expression on her face before the moment when his heart stopped.

The man who looked like Emerson had swiftly taken Amelia into his arms. The touch was not gentle or loving; it was rough and mechanical. Sethos had risen to his feet as shrieks from the surrounding ladies resounded loudly in the ballroom, loud enough to make the whole crowd stop and stare at the spectacle.

The man was not Emerson, judging by the way Amelia struggled against his broad chest. Sethos pushed through the people frozen in place by the scene, trying to get to her. The abductor was fast though, and with his long skirts and cumbersome staff Sethos keep not keep up with him. Amelia's struggles had started to decrease and her pith helmet clattered to the floor.

Some idiotic woman cried out, "How romantic!" The people around her murmured in agreement and a couple of twitters indicated to Sethos that the kidnapping was not being taken seriously. Still struggling with the people around him to at least try to help Amelia, he heard a thundering voice exclaim, "Hell and damnation!"

Emerson stood in the doorway directly in front of the abductor's pathway. Sethos noted that he had blood trickling from his forehead and a bruise on his temple. The man stopped and seemingly gave up, tossing Amelia into Emerson's hard body; he sprinted away in the other direction and disappeared through a crowd of people.

"Damnation!" Sethos heard a roar, "can't I leave you alone for five minutes, Peabody?" He watched as Emerson, still tightly clasping Amelia to his chest for fear of her disappearing again, walk purposefully from the room. His face looked worried, furious, and exasperated. They vanished up the stairs a few moments later and everyone in the ballroom continued with their gossiping.

Sethos, feeling positively drained, left the party. His heart still hammered. It was a near thing, that abduction. Sethos pondered the reasons behind the attack. Was it due to Amelia's incessant meddling in something new? Or was it a product of her latest adventure in the Sudan?

Arriving at his flat, Sethos stripped off his heavy costume and put on another disguise. A few minutes later, a disheveled, disgusting man crept out of the back door of the flat. The man took all the back ways to a dirty café in the heart of Old Cairo. Drawing a chair up to the nearest table, Sethos started digging for the answers he knew he would only receive from one source: Amelia.