Synopsis: How much can the human mind take? How far does one have to push until something breaks? Three months after Allan's death, the League is on a mission from Mycroft Holmes and the English Crown to round up the remaining scientists from Moriarty's underground project. Their youngest, still reeling from the deaths of his brother in arms and mentor, is suddenly confronted with a nightmare from his Missouri childhood, one that proves to be more dangerous for him and the League than the young American originally thought.
Author's Notes: Moriarty is dead, so don't worry, he's not coming back. And on that note, Dorian is also staying dead…sorry to disappoint. This story contains slash, but rest assured that Sawyer is completely heterosexual. The only romantic pairing in this story, though minor, will be between Jekyll and Mina. Italics denotes a memory. Everything between single quotations 'like this' is internal thinking. Italics set between two hypens —like this— is strictly for Edward Hyde when Jekyll is the one in control and vise versa. This is a sensitive topic for many people so please treat it with respect when reviewing. It's not an easy subject to read about, let alone write about. But there are stories such as this that need to be read, written, and told because there are so many unspoken stories that never are.
Warning: This story addresses issues of rape, sexual assault, and nonconsensual situations. This is an angst heavy story and because of the subject matter it will be both suggestive and graphic at times. This story is rated M for good reasons. If this bothers you or you think it may bother you, then do not read. It's that simple.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my original characters...which unfortunately are the baddies. The League belongs to Alan Moore. Thomas Sawyer belongs to Mark Twain. etc. etc. etc. I think you get the picture. This is NOT written for profit, I get nothing from this at all.
Chapter One—Unfinished Business
Tom Sawyer had much preferred the desolate and dry landscape of Kenya to the overpopulated and damp city of London. Part of him didn't mind staying in the foreign country if it meant staying away from civilization. He wasn't quite accustomed to the city life, considering the bulk of his childhood spent among the small towns of the Mississippi river, but for now it was all that was familiar and within reach. The only familiar thing that comforted Sawyer was the fog. It reminded him of the vastness of the American prairie back home.
Despite the changes within, Tom Sawyer was the same in appearance; the white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow, the dark trousers with suspenders trailing behind, a dark vest with holsters holding the memorable American pistols hanging by secure leather shoulder straps, an equally dark, long coat, and the black hat that hid his eyes from the rest of the world. Mystery quickly became more of a personality trait for Sawyer rather than a skill in the last few weeks, since the League left Africa. "The grieving process is different for everyone" was Jekyll's opinion on the situation. Skinner seemed imprudent, Nemo was ambivalent, and Mina was as indecipherable as any woman Sawyer had met in his life.
The night watch however, gave him some relief from the others. Tom couldn't really blame their protectiveness because he was the youngest. He'd acted the same way with Huck when he was alive, as an older brother who tried his damned hardest to keep the evils of the world at bay. He scoffed inwardly. Look where that got them both…
Huck's death would never leave Tom, and he knew that. But he still couldn't get over the fresh sting of Allan's death, something that surprised the American who always prided himself on his independent nature. It was no secret that the mentor-like relationship that started between the two of them grew into something more, maybe something akin to a father and his son…But Tom would never let that notion stay in him, because he would never ask that of Allan, because he respected the man too much, even though that was what he really wanted deep down, someone that he'd never had as a child. But then again, Tom never really had a chance to have a real childhood, not since a chance summer meeting that he'd been trying to forget for almost ten years.
He had to tighten his hold on one of his colt pistols that rested comfortably in his jacket pocket because of his sweaty palms. The proximity of the weapon, as compared to being in its normal home in the black holster where the other resided, was a comfort after what he thought he saw tonight. The young American prayed that he'd just imagined it, that it was a cruel trick of shadows on a similar face and physical build, but something in his gut told him otherwise, that his worst nightmare had actually come true, that a man who had been haunting the past ten years of his life had finally reappeared.
In the fading twilight, the young agent blended into the shadow of the streets, waiting for his target to reappear, taking solace in the fact that he wasn't alone in this foreign country, that he had a safe haven to retreat to. Since the League had left Mongolia, they had learned of four scientists that escaped and fled to Europe. A close eye had been kept on all four, as per request of her royal majesty by word of Mycroft Holmes. Every member of the League gave the poor man a good and satisfactory interrogation, and to Holmes' relief, every member of the League placed some amount of trust in the man. Sawyer had been the most hesitant of all the league members to become the 'League' again, and part of the reason was that for him it was just too soon after everything that had happened.
Besides Sawyer's personal reservations, mutilated corpses of men had been found dumped in the back alleys of abandoned warehouses, near the docks, bodies that looked unnatural, as if they had been part of some horrible experiment. Once the League had actually seen the remains for the first time Mina and Jekyll took it the worst, claiming that somehow the results of Moriarty's research had escaped the Mongolian compound that had been reduced to ashes in the frozen tundra. Skinner's reaction wasn't too far behind. Sawyer supposed it was possible that duplicates, of the box that he kicked into the frozen sea after M's dead body, were made.
Hell, it would have been idiotic not to make more considering M's hunger for enterprise, for profit in a world where war was inescapable. They'd just been lucky that the international tensions lessened for the meantime, though for how long no one knew. This recent activity had suggested a cause for suspicion in these men once the League had tracked them down, a suspicion in the line of national terrorism, which would make quite an issue for her majesty's security forces. Each member but the captain, of course, had chosen one man to follow. Sawyer's man was an awkward but very capable character that went by the name of Mr. Nathaniel Edwards.
Edwards was a short man with little hair to show for his early years. The only unique quality about this man's external appearance was a pair of oversized glasses that were partially hidden under a dark green derby hat that he was never seen without. On this particular night, Edwards led Sawyer to a number of unimportant parties and card games, boring to say the least, but not out of character. Any of the conversation exchange that was picked up by the young agent was either about politics or sports. He gave up on the man around three in the morning, when Edwards finally settled down back at his shady apartment. Another night went by without any action.
Walking back to the Nautilus, Sawyer couldn't stop his mind from wondering about the differences he could have or should have made as the additional member that no one really wanted in the beginning. He knew that Dorian was the main instigator to that argument, and that no one else really showed his enthusiasm when Tom proved himself capable. But he still couldn't help but wonder what his place was now. He was twenty-one years old, like a child compared to the other members of the league, and what did he have to show for it? All that he brought to the table was the cocky and thrill-seeking American attitude that Allan often criticized him on.
Tom sighed in the darkness.
And at that exact moment, Rodney Skinner decided to make his presence known by 'accidentally' nudging Sawyer in the side. The young American gasped and jumped sideways into a brick wall, temporarily disorienting himself and nearly pulling the trigger on one of his colts. The light snickering that followed, quickly turning into barking laughter, from thin air made Sawyer's wide eyes narrow in frustration and anger. Catching his breath that had so suddenly escaped him, Sawyer threw his hat to the invisible man for the benefit of his eyes, shoving his pistol back into its holster.
"Jesus Christ, Skinner! You do have a voice don't ya?" Sawyer hissed.
The hat stopped in mid air only a few feet away from Sawyer and started twirling, as it would appear, on its own. "Well if I'm supposed to compensate for your bein' a bit jumpy by listening to your choice of language, then no, I guess I'll have to become a mute," Skinner said, quietly.
"You're not religious," Sawyer retorted while starting the return journey again. Skinner followed but jumped ahead of Sawyer, most likely walking backwards judging from the position of his voice.
"No, but the point I'd like to make for you, kid, is that shoutin' the name of a central figure in the world's most prominent religion ain't exactly the word of welcome here in nis neighborhood. An' wiv us tryin to be all covert on this operation of our ol' buddy Holmes'—"
"Sorry," Sawyer said gruffly. "Where are the others?"
"Saw Mina not too long ago. Probably just finished feedin' for the night."
"Quite to the contrary Mr. Skinner, I finished feeding a mere three hours ago," Mina said stepping out from the shadows of an adjacent alleyway.
"My apologies then," Skinner said with a nod. "How is our Professor Howell doing these nights—
"Are you alright, Tom?" Mina asked.
Sawyer looked into Mina Harker's eyes, noticing that the iris normally blood red at this hour had only a hint of red to it. Her hair had straightened out as well, the curls of her vampiric self smoothed away.
"You look a little paler than usual," she elaborated.
"Nothing. I just don't take well to being snuck up on," he said. His conscience called him a liar for that, and he hoped that she wouldn't notice the nervous flutter in his chest. The only thing the American wanted at this point was his empty room and full bottle of whiskey. Taking the indication that Sawyer made towards Skinner she nodded her head in agreement. Dramatically, Skinner sighed and tossed Sawyer's hat back to him.
"If you two're finished, le's get a move on back to the ship. Would be quite convenient for me considerin' that's where my nicely warm clothes are," Skinner said.
"Where's Hyde?" Sawyer said.
"Edward is back where he belongs at the moment. I hope I shall be acceptable in his place?" Jekyll said, coming up from behind.
"You seem a bit too cheery for late, Jekyll. I'd make a guess that Bromley was a bit tipsy tonight?" Skinner said.
"You'd be correct actually, but things are best discussed back with the captain, of course."
"Good. God knows what this damp weather is doin' to my extremities."
"Oh please, Mr. Skinner, could you spare us for at least one night without references to your nudity?" Mina quipped.
"Sorry love, but I'd wager that you'd think differently if you and I had switched places for one night, and that would be interestin' now wouldn't it?" Skinner said.
Skinner did open his mouth to continue but was silenced with a well-deserved slap across the face by Mina. Sawyer took a side-glance at Jekyll and shrugged; Mina's accuracy had improved. Though the incident should have eased the dark thoughts that swirled in his head, Sawyer remained impassive, caught up with one particular incident of the night that still disturbed him. He hadn't even noticed that they reached the Nautilus until Jekyll shook him out of his stupor. The doctor gave him a knowing look, but Sawyer gave him a steeled one, willing the man to keep his mouth shut.
At the table usually set for seven, five were now seated. The orderly captain Nemo sat at the head, followed by Mina and Jekyll on his left, and Sawyer and Skinner on his right. Sawyer tried to divert his eyes to the sweet orange tea that had been served to prevent anyone from seeing what lay behind them.
"Shall we start with you Mrs. Harker? I'm very eager to hear of these men's activities," Nemo stated.
"Certainly. I followed Professor Howell to various residences not far from the London Shipyard," she began. "His acquaintances did not seem suspicious until he intercepted Mr. Bromley in a tavern. Dr. Jekyll trailed him into the building whilst I kept watch outside. As I had hoped, I hear that you heard part of a very interesting conversation, Henry?"
"Yes. I was just about to casually order a drink when I heard them speak of a certain man who I could only guess as their employer," Jekyll stated "It seems to me that these four men are not as separate as we've all believed them to be. I did not hear any specifics, but they conversed of certain tests they both seem to be performing."
"Could you speculate as to what kind of tests they may be?" Nemo interrupted.
"I'm afraid all I could conclude from their conversation was that they all seemed to be performing the same kind of tests, or at least that they're all working towards the same goal."
"These four men that we have been tracking, they have been conversing privately with one another?" Nemo asked.
Jekyll nodded. The table was silent for a few moments.
"But how can this be possible?" Nemo asked.
"So it's finally agreed that these blokes are up to somethin' then?" Skinner said.
"Skinner, you've been as skeptical as the rest of us," Tom pointed out.
"Did Mr. Edwards deviate from normality tonight, Agent Sawyer?" Nemo asked.
"Not really. Nothing unusual."
"Has Professor Rousseau had contact with anyone suspicious Mr. Skinner?"
"Nope, Rousseau's the mouse of the bunch. Don't rarely leave his house unless goin' out for a drink at the local tavern," Skinner stated tiredly.
"What tavern does he usually attend?" Jekyll asked.
"Plain Jane's on Thirty-First."
Jekyll glanced sideways at Mina who turned her head at the same time. "…that's the same tavern where I overheard the conversation between Howell and Bromley."
Nemo quietly sighed, clearly upset over the news.
"Looks like our men have a soft spot for Li'l Miss Jane," Skinner stated.
"Well this is just peachy," Sawyer sarcastically voiced. Months of surveillance was thrown out the window now. All along they had believed these men to have had nothing to do with one another, that they had gone back to their own lives and were content to let the Mongolia business lie. But how the hell did those men manage to pull that off? How the hell did the League not notice it before?
Jekyll shut his eyes tight with a bitter smile. "Edward isn't too happy either."
"We should station someone there considering her popularity," Mina said.
"Wait," Sawyer interjected. "We're not going to do anything? We're just going to sit and listen some more?"
"Until we can gather physical evidence for Mr. Holmes our arguments and assumptions will surely fall on deaf ears," Jekyll wearily stated. "There's nothing we can do."
"Do you have an alternative means of proceeding in this case, Agent Sawyer?" Nemo asked.
Sawyer looked at Nemo, transferring his glare into the captain unintentionally. When Nemo blinked and hardened his own, Sawyer looked away, embarrassed and suddenly very tired.
"No," he said, rubbing his eyes, wishing sincerely for the privacy of his own room.
"Are we in agreement, then, that more surveillance is necessary?"
With the nods of assent from the other four, Nemo left the rest of the matter to be discussed in the morning. Sawyer downed the last of his orange tea and, relieved at the quick conclusion, trudged back to his room, ignoring the congregation of the rest of the league behind him in the dining room. That had become the routine: Sawyer left and the rest would gather and talk about him right behind his back. He had been angry at first, but that was slowly giving way to a deeper and more somber feeling, something unwelcome.
It was late, but as usual, it was hard to tell what time of the day it was when the Nautilus was submerged. Thanks to Holmes, the abandoned docks that he had allowed the League the use of for the time being made it convenient for their investigation. The man was currently furnishing an old government building for the League to use as a headquarters, obviously for the convenience of the royal crown, but Sawyer had to wonder whether it was worth it. He had the distinct feeling that Nemo wouldn't abandon his ship so easily. And as far as Tom was concerned, if the captain didn't want to leave, then he didn't either. The whole idea of having such an out in the open place to stay seemed dumb in the first place.
Sawyer closed the door to his room and locked it to keep Jekyll away if the doctor was more curious than he had let on. With disbelief drowning his logic, Tom leaned back against the door to sort out his swirling thoughts. The start of a tremor settled between his shoulders. He ran a shaking hand through his hair and closed his eyes when he saw it again.
Tom remembered standing in an alley waiting for Edwards to leave his fifth party of the evening. He walked down to the street corner and stood for a few moments watching the dwindling traffic in the late hour. Then a passing man looked to his right in profile. The features had aged but were still very distinctive from the nightmares that still reminded Sawyer of a horrible and endless night in Missouri. Air escaped his lungs and his eyes subconsciously widened as he saw the man's head turn even more.
The light from the street lamp only enhanced the menacing façade that he constantly tried to forget. A young couple blocked Sawyer's vision for only a second as they passed by. The gray eyes that had haunted Sawyer from Missouri had now stolen the heat that kept his heart beating from a street corner in London. Before his mind could make sense of what he saw, the man had already crossed the street and was walking down Wilton Road. In his stupor, Sawyer had almost lost track of Edwards, who conveniently chose that moment to move onto his sixth event of the evening.
'Did I really see that bastard walk down that street? It could've been anyone…Yeah…just some old timer and a play of shadows. It has to be. Harding couldn't be here.'
Presently, eyeing the bottle of whiskey he brought from America, Sawyer crossed his room, tossing the coat and hat back on the stand in the corner. As part of the usual night ritual, his hands went to remove the holsters hanging at his sides, but they hovered for a second and reluctantly dropped. He was shaking. Huck would say he was quaking in his boots, and Sawyer hated himself for it. He quickly took a swig of the whiskey and forced the burning liquid down his dry throat, trying desperately to get the image of that man out of his head so he could breathe evenly. Instead of plopping down on the unmade bed, he sat on the floor and let his back fall against the wall opposite the door, leaving the lights on. He set himself up for a long night, but fell asleep after only his third shot.
"Tom, I know we ain't hearin' the last of this from Ms. Jones, I jus know it!"
"Will you quit your whinin', Huck! It'll be fine, no one knows but you an me, right?"
"Well, yea but—
"Well what are you frettin' over then? Ms. Jones don't know nothin', she was just intimidatin' us"
"What's that mean?"
"Means she's jus tryin' to scare us. It'll all be fine as long as you keep your trap shut."
"It won't be fine, Tom! What if your Aunt Polly finds out? She'll skin our hides if she knows we're the ones that ruined the laundry with that paint!"
"Huck, relax!" Tom said taking hold of his young friend. They had been walking along a dirt path in the woods leading into town from the island, in which they used for their childhood adventures, on the Mississippi. Though the island now was used for nothing more than entertaining some of the town girls that Tom and Huck deemed worthy. The sun had gone down hours ago and there was no doubt in Tom's mind that Aunt Polly would be waiting at the door to give him the whipping he deserved.
"We didn't ruin it. Everything comes out with lil' soap and water, 'sides, this ain't the worst trouble we been in. Why you so anxious?" Tom asked.
"I don't know, Tom. I just got this strange feelin' I can't shake." Huck whispered.
"I know you think they're worth squat and they usually don't bug me more than a day…but this one's different. I've had it for a week, a whole damn week, Tom! And I just can't help but think maybe we got ourselves deep in some shit we might not get out of."
"Huck, you're over-thinkin' the situation—
Tom reached into his pocket but suddenly started turning out every pocket he had on him and looking along the ground cursing to himself.
"What are you—
"The keys to the shed!"
"You lost them? How could you lose the God damned keys?"
"I don't know! You'd better get back 'fore Aunt Polly sends out Alice. Tell 'er that I saw the guy who done it and went after 'em, you got it?"
"Yea, I got it. But, where d'ya think ya left 'em?"
"Maybe back at the raft. You'd better get along, Huck. I'll meet ya back at Aunt Polly's when I find 'em alright?"
"What is it?"
"Hurry back, would'ya?"
"Alright, jus' get goin' already!"
Huck disappeared into the darkness of night heading towards the light of the town. Unfortunately for Tom, Huck took all the light with him. Tom hurried back along the path to the river and literally bumped into the raft. He only had to search for a minute to find them shining in the moonlight. His twelve-year old face lit up as he pocketed them and started along the dark path once again, but unfortunately he was delayed when a group of grown men jumped him from behind and forced him to the ground.
Do let me know what you think! I have a lot of reservations about posting this story and whether or not it's worth the time and effort. I have about half of it written right now so I'll try to make updates of what I have weekly...if anyone has actually reached the bottom of this page...?