Marry or Murder
Based upon Sanctuary, created by Damian Kindler
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"You may marry, or murder, or do what you like with him."
--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's response to playwright William Gillette's inquiry "May I marry Holmes?"
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..--London, England, 1888
"Helen," James seemed pleasantly surprised to see her. "What are you doing out at this God awful hour of night"
She glanced behind him to the clock in the foyer of his townhouse, it was past eleven o'clock, later than she had thought. "I suppose I've too much on my mind."
"Come in, come in," he stepped aside and allowed her into his home, taking her overcoat and hat and hanging them up.
She was sure that he knew exactly where she had been simply from the smell of her jacket. He didn't respond to it in any way, but she knew. He could probably smell the liquor and was able to place it to one of the more unfortunate parts of the city -- probably down to a several block area in fact-- as well as the gun powder on her sleeve.
Helen made her way to the sitting room and sat down on the settee while James made his way to the bottle of brandy near the window sill.
"Perhaps a drink?"
She shook her head. "Not this evening," she replied soberly, her voice sounding tired to her own ears.
"Tea, then?" he asked, heading back towards her and the small table between the settee and his own chair. He poured tea into the extra cup that had been sitting on the tray, almost as if he had been expecting her. She knew he hadn't been, not even he was that good.
James reclaimed his own cup and sat down in his large chair. "So, he is not dead."
Helen paused mid-sip. She knew better than to ask how he knew that.
"He spirited himself away as you fired the shot?"
Helen nodded. "I believe I hit him, but more likely than not, the shot was not fatal."
"Unfortunate." James regarded her for a second over his tea cup. "Yet, you are none-the-less relieved."
Helen took a deep breath, and smiled sheepishly for a second. "That, too, is unfortunate."
James smiled comfortingly. "You made the right choice, Helen, especially considering the circumstances and your options."
"But I wasn't able to kill him."
"Though no fault of your own." He paused and took another sip of tea. "I know it is difficult not to place the blame on yourself, however you are not at fault here."
Helen set her cup down somewhat angrily. "It was my experiment, it was my idea."
"One does not become what he did without a predilection for killing. There is no way you could have known. Nigel, Tesla and myself were caught just as off guard."
She was going to remind him how her relationship with John would have given her an advantage over the others into his true nature.
"Even," he said, cutting her off, "considering how close you were."
Helen closed her eyes as the words how close you were echoed in her mind. How close you were. Past tense. That was all over then.
She noticed that James kept silent, sensing that she was attempting to gather strength to say what had to be said. "That brings me to why I came this evening." Helen dropped her eyes to her cup of tea as she tried to formulate the correct words, but, alas, she could find none.
Her eyes shot up to meet his. "How did you know?" Master of deduction or not, that was a good guess.
He smiled gently, "A thousand different things. Not the least of which was the way your hand rested on your abdomen upon your arrival, as it does now." He chuckled as her hand jumped from her abdomen to her tea cup. "And your refusal of a drink after you attempted to kill a man -- a lover, in fact."
Helen was stunned, she didn't know what to say. She was surprised at herself, the most prevalent thought on her mind being her friend's knowledge of her loss of virtue.
He reached out to her and gently clutched her hand. "I think no less of you, Madam," he said comfortingly, almost reading her thoughts.
She placed her other hand over his. "Thank you, James. I knew coming to you was the correct course of action."
"Why did you come here?" he asked.
"I need your help."
"You know, Helen, I will do anything I can. However, I am not sure what I can do here. Unless, of course, you are referring to obtaining certain medicines that may or may not be available to a woman of your stature."
Helen closed her eyes and once again considered what James was implying. She had thought about aborting the pregnancy, more than once. But she simply couldn't bring herself to do it. "No, James, not that. I need your help removing the embryo and placing it in frozen animation."
"And just when I thought it was impossible for me to be surprised by anything."
"You think I'm making the wrong decision."
"Only because your frozen animation has not been proven to the standards of preserving an embryo."
"Oh, James, you were never a very good liar."
He smiled, accepting her seeing through him. "My feelings aside, Helen, the concern remains."
"I believe it will be sufficiently preserved and protected. It has worked before."
"With tissue samples! As undeveloped as an embryo may be, it is much more complex; not to mention in a crucial state of growth."
"I believe it will work."
James put down his empty tea cup, and thought for a moment. "Are you sure this is the wisest choice for you?"
"I've spent many a sleepless night trying to convince myself it wasn't."
He nodded slowly. "I will help you."
"One last thing . . ."
He smiled again. "Anything."
"You can't tell my father."
"My lips are sealed."
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Helen awoke in her own bed in her father's home. She and James had decided to have the procedure in the Sanctuary while her father was away. She subconsciously rubbed her sore abdomen and looked out the window. The drapes were open so she could see the sky, which was surprisingly clear for the season. It looked as if it was midday or later.
She took a deep breath, thinking about her child. John's child.
It wasn't John's child anymore. It was hers and hers alone. John was no longer the man that she had fallen in love with. While John Druitt may have survived, the father of her unborn child was dead.
She looked over at the door when she heard the knob turn. She smiled at James as he walked in, carrying a tray with a pot a two tea cups. He set it down on the night stand.
"I see you're awake," he said. "How are you feeling?"
She smiled. "Well." He helped her into a sitting position, propped up by a few pillows and the headboard. She winced at the soreness in her abdomen.
"The soreness will abate shortly, and you will be out and about in no time."
"The procedure?" she asked.
"Went well," he replied. "The embryo is safely preserved and you are, as of yet, free of infection."
She studied him for a second as he poured her a cup of tea. "What aren't you telling me, James?"
He smiled again. "You always can tell if I'm withholding something, can't you. That, my dear Helen, is a wonderful gift."
"James," she implored him.
He reached into the inside pocket of his waistcoat and pulled out an envelope.
It was addressed, simply, to Helen in an all-too-familiar hand; the hand of her father. She stared at the envelope for a moment before making eye contact with James. "Where is my father?"
"It was his idea to deceive you, and completely his choice. I was against it the entire time."
"James," she pressed, "where is my father?"
"Preserved next to your unborn child."
He held his hands up in defense. "Read the letter," he said and exited the room, closing the door behind him.
Helen carefully opened the unsealed envelope and pulled out the letter, unfolding it.
My dearest Helen, it read.
The good Doctor Watson did not tell me.
While I hoped that you would have told me yourself, I can understand why you did not. Know that there is very little you could do to disappointment. The conception of my grandchild is not one of them.
I coerced James into helping me because he was right about the frozen animation process. It was not ready for something as complex and important an embryo. Tissue samples and your unborn child are in different categories, Helen, and I could not let you take that chance.
Had I not survived the animation process, James was to not remove the embryo and allow you to make another decision.
Know that I am proud of you. You have grown into far more than I could have imagined; a breathtakingly gorgeous, brilliant scientist of whom anyone would be privileged to know. I know that I am privileged to have known you, loved you, and have been loved in return.
Take care, my dearest, and we will meet again.
Your adoring father,
Helen wiped the tears from her eyes. She knew that reanimating her father at the moment was impossible. While they were sure that the freezing process would preserve the lifeform, releasing them from stasis was another matter.
She knew the ability would exist eventually, which is why she trusted her child to it. She knew she would live long enough to bring the baby to term, if she ever chose to do so.
But she was not sure that she could release her father, between his aged body and his hypertension.
She would not let his sacrifice go for naught. One day, when the world was safer, she would awaken her child and bring it to term. She would raise her child as her father raised her, to question everything, to be strong, to care about all the creatures of the world, especially those who need protecting.
And she was going to be damned if she let her father down.
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