|The Last Note
Author: SpiderFingers PM
The setting: A frigid ocean. The time: 1912. The people: The wealthy and the ambitious. The Titanic is about to set sail.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Tragedy - Chapters: 16 - Words: 28,618 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 01-30-13 - Published: 08-17-12 - id: 3051139
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sorry for the long wait everyone, hope you enjoy!
Thomas plodded slowly back towards the dining room. He barely paid attention to the various passengers and workers passing him by, only noticing enough to veer around them.
…Thomas Brown has not been entirely truthful…
…immediately upon arrival…
…you don't have a choice…
He couldn't even muster the energy to sigh in defeat; It was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other. He arrived at the dining room and realized he had missed the access door while lost in his thoughts. He backtracked and entered the dimly lit hallway there for their use.
He didn't exactly want any company at the moment, but unfortunately, James was sitting at the desk when he walked in. Tightening his lips, Thomas went past him to the chair and sat, staring blankly at the door as if expecting it to burst open.
After a few minutes of silence, James put down his pen and turned in exasperation to the violinist.
"Is anything the matter?" He asked.
Thomas blinked and turned to him. "Sorry?"
"I asked if anything was the matter." James repeated.
The word "no" was right on his lips; he could feel it ready to come out. But for some reason, he found himself saying the opposite. "Yes."
James nodded and turned back to the desk. Then the word penetrated his mind and he swiveled around again.
"Yes." Thomas repeated in a dull tone, still not looking at James, who was confused at the complete lack of information. And now he didn't quite know what to do. Thomas didn't look as if he was going to give over anything any time soon, and he didn't think he could exactly ask…
But he did anyway. "Would…would you like to tell me?" Privately, James hoped Thomas would say no. He couldn't handle two uncomfortable conversations in one day.
Thomas opened his mouth. "I—" He couldn't figure out where to begin. "Never mind."
James sighed, but didn't press the matter. Thomas would tell him if he so chose. He turned back to his music sheets, hoping for a few minutes of silence, but that was not to be.
"There is a man on board who…. is an acquaintance of mine."
James turned back around, but didn't say anything. Thomas was rather talented at being vague, he reflected.
"He has had several bones to pick with me after my father died."
James didn't need three guesses to figure out what those would be. "Did they involve money?"
Thomas nodded. "I borrowed a large sum of money from him six years ago that I haven't quite paid back." He looked at his bed where his violin lay innocently. "It was for my violin. My previous one had been … lost."
James stared. "You borrowed money from this man when you were sixteen and he is still angry with you as if it was last year?"
Thomas sucked in his breath. "I wasn't sixteen yet…"
"Okay, so you were fifteen, that's not the point—"
"No." Thomas closed his eyes. "I was fourteen."
James stopped talking and looked closer at the violinist. "Then that means you are—"
"Twenty. Not twenty-two."
James sat back and studied the younger man. Thomas' eyes were avoiding his own and his shoulders were slumped as if all the burdens of life rested upon them. He wondered what this man could have said to make the usually optimistic musician fall so far into despair.
Thomas didn't give him much time to wonder, as he continued with his story. "He hadn't wanted to lend me the money." He said. "But he owed my father before he died. I told him that, and I think that is why he is so intent on getting the money back."
"Who is this man?" James asked, unsure if he really wanted to hear.
"Mr. Henry Wilcaster."
"Henry Wilcaster?" James all but shouted. Thomas jumped at the loud reaction. "Even I have heard of that man. What are you doing mixed up with that criminal?" He honestly couldn't think of anyone less likely to have business dealings then the man sitting in front of him.
He got his answer. "He was an old…business partner of my father's." Thomas muttered.
James was thinking about this situation very carefully now. There was much more lurking beneath the surface of this seemingly simple violinist.
"Really." He stated. "May I ask who your father was?"
Thomas shrugged. There was nothing else to lose. "Mr. Gerald Henshaw." The name was barely audible. "And I am Lawrence Henshaw." It had been so long since he had referred to himself with that name, and yet, it rolled off his tongue as if he had never gone by anything else.
James was completely unprepared for such a revelation. He realized suddenly that he was standing and he sat again, mind reeling with what Thomas had just told him.
"You haven't told anyone else about this, have you?" He asked, knowing the answer even before Thomas shook his head.
And yet he is telling me. The wry thought flew through his head before he could stop it. The man is blackmailing him with his own past. He realized. That is despicable. James found himself getting more upset with each thought that skittered through his mind.
Strange as it was, he didn't like seeing Thomas so downcast; it went against everything he knew about him. The man – little more than a boy – was frightened to death.
"Mr. Brown, I cannot believe you are letting a common criminal blackmail you like this." He said loudly and firmly.
Thomas blinked, confused. If he wasn't mistaken, James Albany, he of the endless sarcasm and indifference was sticking up for him. It was almost too much to comprehend.
"What else can I do? I owe him the money and he has every—"
"Don't you say that he has any right to do what he is doing. You know as well as I do that blackmail is illegal, no matter where you are. He is a criminal, and nothing else. And if he owed your father anything, then you don't owe him at all."
Thomas stared at James, mouth slightly open. "I…I suppose." He stammered. James sounded so…passionate on the subject. "But how can I tell him that? I don't know what or how much he owed my father. For all I know—"
"That's no matter. He owed your father. You don't owe him a damned thing. Just tell him that." For him, it was as simple as that. As for Thomas, he wasn't so sure. James saw it in his eyes.
"You are afraid."
Thomas was instantly on the defensive. "I'm not afraid of him!"
James cocked an eyebrow. "Then what are you waiting for?"