AUTHOR'S NOTE: I did some revisions to the earlier chapters to fix an error regarding titles that JellyKate1 pointed out (thanks!) and to fix that brief mention of Ziva's heritage. I think this may have deleted some of the old author's notes, though, so I will just reiterate that there will be a sequel, there will be a story in the same 'verse by the wonderful Richefic, and you are welcome to send me requests for one-shots in this universe. And thanks to Cathy and Hermione's Shadow, in the reviews of the last chapter-I couldn't reply, but I really appreciated the reviews.
I hope you've all enjoyed the story!
Timothy had still been confined to his bed when they had laid Mr. Davies to his rest, but Gibbs and Anthony both had gone to see him buried, and when Timothy could walk again—albeit only barely—Anthony took him to see the grave.
"I believe flowers are more customary," Anthony said as Timothy let go of his arm to better manage the clock.
It was the duplicate only, and that pained him a bit—by all reasons right and proper, Mr. Davies ought to have had the one Timothy had first given him, but if Timothy had had that still to give, or to return, there never would have been a grave at which to lay it. The duplicate was as close as he could come to giving back the gift and accepting, at last, what Mr. Davies had tried to give him in return—the assurance that he was a good man, that he made things of value, that he had done right, not simply wasted time and money in a glut of self-interested experimentation. The clock felt very heavy in arms, but when he laid it down at the stone, he felt not lightened, but more burdened than ever—and empty. He stood there, his back paining him, and tried to think of something to say that he would willingly have Anthony overhear.
"The stone is less modest than I had expected," he said. "He never had much in the way of funds, I'd thought, and I at least was far overdue in my rent."
"Is it a good monument to him, though? Fitting, proper? That is what matters, I'm sure."
"It is exactly what I would have chosen," Timothy said. "It is good to think that I might have understood him so well, that I would guess so accurately at what his own desire was."
Anthony coughed. "There is a shortage of understanding in the world, McGee. Mr. Davies—would have been happy in your perception of him."
Timothy nodded and, having prepared himself now for the task of speaking to the dead—as Dr. Mallard had done so effortlessly—addressed the stone itself. "I have returned the clock, sir, or done it as nearly as I could, in any case. Your appreciation of it is what I will strive to recollect when it comes to my mind, for despite all the trouble it caused me, and all the trouble it caused you, sir, when you looked at it, you saw something worth having. And worth a little trouble. That was very kind."
Able to think of nothing else to say, and his throat feeling suddenly bottled up, he said, "That is quite enough now, I think," and turned to take Anthony's arm again so they might go out. He tried to find some lightness, some ray of dawn creeping through the clouds of his renewed grief. "Thank God you are driving us to see the Benningtons," he said, "for I'm sure otherwise I would not arrive intact."
As Anthony helped him into the cab, he turned back and saw, from a distance, the way the clock caught the sunlight and used it to brighten the stone, and he thought that yes, it was something worth having, a gift that was worth giving it, even after all his tribulations. It was not broken in the least.
The Duke received them on his own—the Lady Lucy still in shock from the events, and her mother having taken her from the London house for a lengthy recuperation in Bath. Timothy, who was nearly over having been shot one the same night that Lady Bennington had been so appallingly shocked, found this a trifle absurd, though he supposed the quality treated their daughters rather absurdly in general, and in any case, the Duke and Duchess might have wanted to absent their daughter from the rumors that had already taken wing about that night. She would not need to be gone so very long. It was London; there would be another scandal along soon enough.
"I had thought there were three of you," the Duke said.
Anthony bowed. "Your Grace, my employer is little fond of receiving thanks, and his social graces are such that you have reason to be thankful for his reticence. I assure you, he's quite flattered by Your Grace's attention to him, only objects in principle to Your Grace's gratitude, which is—if I may say so—quite unnecessary."
This was a very pretty way of rephrasing what Gibbs had actually said of the Duke's invitation, which was that it was "damned nonsense" and they might go as they liked, but he would have nothing at all to do with, having been in such houses altogether too much of late, and to no good end in either case—the latter aspect of which Timothy felt inclined to agree with.
"Unnecessary?" the Duke said. "You saved my daughter from disfigurement and likely death—at the risk of your own, Mr. McGee—and rid me of a man whom I'm sure you're aware was a thorn in my family's side long before that night. My gratitude feels quite necessary to me, gentlemen."
Timothy could think of no polite way of saying what he truly meant, which was that the Duke had turned it all sideways somehow—it had been about Lucy Bennington only at the very end of things, and his true and first concern had been finding the man who had killed Mr. Davies, who had been forgotten by all the rumors, not being so elevated, so interesting to so many people. Timothy had tried to find justice for him, and he had found it, but everyone outside of Gibbs's immediate circle saw the justice as having been rendered for Lucy Bennington alone. There was Mr. Davies, there was Miss Dawes—but there were no thanks from great gentlemen for coming to their aid.
He said, simply, "We tried to help as we could, Your Grace," which seemed the only thing to say—the only honest thing that was not in any way a lie, or mere flattery.
"As I hope to help you in exchange," the Duke said. He bowed to them—very slightly, but it was a bow all the same. "Someone will meet you at the door, gentlemen. You have my eternal gratitude, and please relay the same to Mr. Gibbs, despite his distaste for such sentiments."
Anthony said, "I will persuade my employer of your feelings, Your Grace." Which most likely meant that he would tell Gibbs that the Duke had thanks for him whether he wanted them or not, and then the whole conversation would devolve into a slight squabble about rudeness, much as it had done at breakfast. In any case, it meant that there would be a greater share of tea for Timothy.
The Duke frowned. "You look most familiar, sir. Have we met before?"
"I assure your Grace, not before the obvious."
"No—there is something most distinct about you, and I have a very good memory for faces. You look almost exactly like—"
Anthony bowed again—to hide his face? To cast it, however temporarily, into shadow?—and said, "I beg Your Grace's pardon, but I'm quite sure you are mistaken. I am no one of any consequence, and I am sure I am not the man you remember."
The Duke shook his head. "The resemblance is most uncanny. But of course you would know yourself best, would you not? Gentlemen, again—my thanks for your bravery and your consideration in this matter."
And then, at a wave of his hand, a servant came forward to lead them out again. It had been a most strange reception, to Timothy's mind, and he was puzzling over it when the servant bowed to them and handed over a small envelope to him and two to Anthony. He thrust it into his pocket without a moment's thought and, still grasping Anthony's arm, hobbled forward into the street.
"Your lack of curiosity astonishes me," Anthony said, already tearing one of his envelopes open with his teeth. "Do you not want to see how your fortune has been made? Well, I would imagine, even better than my own or Gibbs's—since your part was, after all, the most noticeable of our three."
"Why did the Duke recognize you?"
"He did not, did you not just hear me saying so? Good Lord, it is a handsome settlement. Would you not look at yours? I burn with anticipation on your behalf, and you've no interest in the matter whatsoever, it's as if you're made of stone."
"But the Duke knew you," Timothy said, feeling quite insistent about this, for he had seen the way Anthony had hidden his face in the shadows in response to the threat of recognition. "He did."
"Stuff and nonsense, McGee." Anthony, evidently quite fed up with any waiting, took advantage of Timothy's present lack of balance to reach into his pocket and neatly divest him of his own envelope. He paused just slightly before he opened it and said, "You knowme, do you not? Nearly as well as anyone, I should imagine. That is not the man the Duke knows, or believes he knows—and that man is, truly, of even less consequence than I. Now." He tore the envelope open. "As I suspected, you are to be rich beyond your wildest dreams, provided there is not a complete failure of the London banking system within our lifetimes."
Timothy snatched the paper back. Looking at the numbers on it made his head ache and his heart pound. "It is far more than I had ever hoped for."
"His Grace can afford to be generous," Anthony said, picking at his nails now with the tip of his knife. "Without your assistance, I'm sure he's thought, he would have to care for his daughter all her days—now she is still marriageable. I'm sure we've all received only a fraction of the money he believes he has saved from the threat of her continued upkeep."
"You are very hard on him."
"I am very realistic about him. He is a good man, as far as the quality tends, but you would do him a disservice to make a saint of him, for he's far more interesting than that."
Timothy shook his head. "I will never understand you in the least, for all you say I do."
"I said know, never understand. What will you do with your vast riches?"
"I have not the faintest idea. What ought I to do with them?"
"You may, of course, do as you like," Anthony said. His gaze stayed entirely on the moving point of the knife as it flashed around his hands. "Certainly there is enough money there to ensure you an education at university, should you so desire, or to set you up in a shop where you might make your steam-powered clocks all day long, as you choose."
"Oh," Timothy said. He had not known quite what he had expected, but it had not, somehow, been that. His back throbbed, and suddenly he did not feel rich at all, only as confused and downtrodden as he had been before the start of it all.
"Though," Anthony said, "it strikes me, as perhaps it has struck you, that you're simply rubbish as a clockmaker, and you may do far better in another line of work. My line of work. Gibbs's. If you like." He did not raise his eyes from his hands. He was waiting.
"That," Timothy said, his back feeling altogether better now, "would be, I think, exactly what I should like."
Anthony whisked the blade of his knife back into its handle and beamed at him. "Well, that is very good, McGee, for I had already engaged to have your things moved from Mr. Davies's house to home, and it would have been very awkward indeed if I'd been forced to have them all moved elsewhere as well. You've an overabundance of books, do you know that? And duller literature I have never seen in all my days."
"You've gone through my things?"
"As I said, I am possessed of a healthy degree of curiosity. The books? They are not even novels."
"They are science," Timothy said, "and mathematics, and I assure you, I do not find them dull in the least."
"Well, I suppose there may be some use in them," Anthony said, "though I'll allow that the use is a mystery to me, since for all your books, in the end you merely ground your heel through a clock and have made your fortune for it, but it is your room, and they are your books, so—again, I say, you may do entirely as you like."
Timothy laughed. "And Gibbs? Is all this to his liking, as well?"
"Gibbs fears that steam is the future, and you are the only one who may translate it in terms we will understand—clocks, mostly, and violence. He is quite tolerant of how much trouble you have caused us, which is rather rich, considering he is the only one who came out of it at all unscathed."
"And you? Was it worth the interruption at the theatre?" He felt that he could ask it in earnest now that he was no longer bleeding all over the Benningtons' ballroom floor.
Anthony tilted his head. "I should not go quite that far, McGee. But should you like to make amends with me for that shocking lapse in courtesy, the show is playing again tomorrow evening, and you are, as I said, rich beyond your wildest dreams, with funds therefore quite enough for two tickets and repayment to that boy of yours, who is undoubtedly still awaiting your bribe."
"He was most appallingly mercenary."
"Born here, no doubt." Anthony, having decided that their conversation was well at its end, and having also apparently decided, despite Timothy's own lack of assent, that they were destined for the theatre tomorrow, helped him into the cab in quite a good humor. "The city leaves its mark upon us all. Now, remember, you're to help Abby with her clock today, and Gibbs absolutely forbids any explosions in his parlor, as do I—we've only just hired Miss Dawes, and I like her extremely, and have no wish to drive her away with your bad habits."
"I have fewer than you," Timothy said, closing his eyes.
"I," Anthony said, sounding most injured, "have none whatsoever."
The cab went forward gently over the cobblestones, and Timothy thought that he could sleep, and let himself be carried forward into a future he could not yet imagine. But he felt as if he had only just blinked his eyes shut when the cab pulled to a stop, and he heard Anthony telling him to wake up, that this was it, that they were home.