Title:Up the Creek
Author: Jordanna Morgan
Author's Email: email@example.com
Permission to Archive: Please request the author's consent.
Rating/Warnings: G. Spoilers for "The Rockets' Red Glare".
Characters: The mighty foursome, with an appearance by Atonwa
Summary: Missing scene from "The Rockets' Red Glare". Just how did Phileas contrive to be paddle-less on that canoe?
Disclaimer: Jules and company, and everything that goes with them, belong to Talisman Crest. I'm just having fun with them.
Notes: In "The Rockets' Red Glare", it seemed peculiar to me that Phileas would let a woman do such work as to paddle a canoe—but then, the lady in question is Rebecca. Knowing firsthand the way of things between cousins, I figured there probably had to be a fight over it. I thought about that for a while, filed the concept away for future reference... then had a Vernian vision in the middle of trying to finish another story, and wrote the following mayhem in one morning.
Up the Creek
The stolen Aurora was still visible in the sky above the trees, a dark speck in the morning brightness. As his companions worked at dragging the canoe across the riverbank to the water's edge, Phileas Fogg stood atop a large boulder and watched the dirigible through a spyglass, his jaw tightly clenched.
He was far more angered by her theft than he'd let on to the others. The Aurora was his airship. She was his pride and pleasure, his most faithful and beautiful lady friend. In his heart, she held a place second only to Rebecca and Verne and Passepartout…
…And occasionally, she was worth a good deal more than his cousin in his estimation.
"There are four paddles," Rebecca remarked as she walked over to him. "The others have taken the first three. Why don't you have a turn at the fourth, and I'll relieve you after an hour."
Lithely nimble as the mountain lions of this rugged North American continent, Phileas leaped down from the massive stone. "I think you should row for the time being."
Rebecca scowled. "Phileas, it is your dirigible we're chasing after."
"So it is—and she was stolen on your mission. I've no doubt I'll have to do all the work of taking her back, so I think it's only fair that you should put some effort into the expedition right now." He gestured grandly toward the canoe. "If you're so insistent upon constantly doing a man's work, then by all means, be my guest."
Rebecca gaped indignantly. "Oh, so now I'm an activist for women's equality, just because I work for the Secret Service?"
"Well, it is a very progressive sort of career—and one that isn't going to be so secret if you don't keep your voice down."
"We're in the middle of a bloody great wilderness!"
Phileas turned to her sharply, pointing to the sky where the Aurora had faded away, and spoke in a suddenly hard tone. "And we are not alone out here. Kindly keep that in mind."
The canoe was a lot heavier than it looked. Leaning on the stern, Jules caught his breath and waited impatiently while the Foggs argued on the other side of the embankment—trying not to hear them. Passepartout, more immune to these angst-induced delays, was sitting on a rock; he'd taken out his pocketknife, and was calmly whittling. As for Atonwa, their newly acquired Indian friend was crouching on the other side of the stern, watching the two arguing cousins with an uneasy fascination.
"Do they often do this?" he asked wonderingly.
Jules sighed and smiled. "Trust me, Atonwa. Most of the time, it's when those two stop fighting that you can be sure the situation is bad."
"Now I understand why many white men fled from England to settle here," Atonwa said gravely. "Your Rebecca-lady is not like any white woman in this land."
Passepartout paused in his whittling. "Miss Rebecca is not like the woman of any country in the world," he said, his voice a perfect mixture of fawning admiration and abject dread.
Jules chuckled, but it turned to a scowl as he glanced back at the Foggs. Shaking his head, he took out his slightly dented pocketwatch, and turned his attention to timing the river's currents.
"Phileas, why are you being so difficult about this?"
Rebecca sighed. She knew Phileas was angry about the loss of the Aurora. He blamed her for it, and maybe he had a right to; it was her mission. But that really couldn't excuse him from being so ungentlemanly about their impending mode of travel.
"Why are you kicking up such a fuss about it?" Phileas shot back. "I thought you might be quite happy for the exercise."
It was the wrong thing to say, for it opened the door to an inference known universally to all women. Rebecca put her hands on her slender leather-clad hips, her eyelashes lowering dangerously.
"Are you saying I'm fat?"
As instinctively as a woman knew how to use that tactic, a man knew to retreat from it with all possible speed, and Phileas was a man's man. He blanched and took an actual, physical step back from her. "That is hardly what I meant."
Rebecca opened her mouth, then closed it and smiled rather unprettily.
She had been about to make a rebuttal by telling him about the new kite-winged gliding apparatus which Passepartout had recently made for her, based on one of Jules' designs. One had to be quite light to use it, and her test of it before leaving England had been highly successful. Instead of telling him, however, she decided to save the argument for another day, when she could give him an unannounced demonstration—no doubt frightening the life out of him in the process, as he well deserved.
In the meantime, she would let him think he had won… but he was in serious trouble. And she was going to remind him of that by not letting him row the canoe—not even once.
Giving him a patented female "just you wait" glare, she turned on her heel and strode toward the canoe. "Passepartout, give me one of those paddles."
Hearing Rebecca's approach, Jules turned from counting the twigs that were swept downstream by the currents. Finally! The Terrible Two had reached a concensus, and they could be on their way.
With a grimly self-satisfied expression, Fogg looked the canoe over from stem to stern. Giving something that Jules interpreted as a shrug among the English, he stepped in and settled himself exactly in the middle, where it was widest and there was the most room for his long legs.
"Shall we be off?" he asked casually, looking as confident and battle-ready as Horatio Nelson must have on the deck of the Victory. Jules found it funny in the extreme, and had to turn away, hiding his mouth behind his fist.
"You don't intend to do any rowing at all, do you?" he asked, while Rebecca was busy conferring with Passepartout and Atonwa.
Fogg didn't quite roll his eyes. "Of course not, Verne. Someone has to navigate."
Dubiously Jules glanced out over the flowing water. "But we're just following the river..."
"Alright, let's go," Rebecca said suddenly at his shoulder, stepping forward to join Fogg in the canoe. Her expression was not so ladylike, and Jules had a sudden unpleasant memory of long journeys with his family back in France, when his siblings were fussy and his parents had been quarreling.
He sighed and glanced downriver, thinking of the miles that lay ahead of them.
It's going to be a very, very long trip.
Copyright 2002 Jordanna Morgan