[identity profile] mollivanders.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] prefer_my_life
Title: a promise waiting down the road
Fandom: The Mummy
Rating: G
Characters: Evelyn Carnahan, Rick/Evy
Author's Note: Written for [livejournal.com profile] stainofmylove prompt meme for [livejournal.com profile] earnmysong. Prompt was break the lock if it don't fit. Word Count – 2,032
Disclaimer: Not mine.


She’s raised in a world of patterns, of expectations, of polite society and social calls.

It’s not so much her parents, in the end. Her father loved an adventuring woman, after all, and was an adventurer himself. They don’t mean for her to be anything but what she already is. It’s just that they’re not the only ones who get a say. Her governess. Her teachers, when she starts school. Her friends’ parents. The servants. There are expectations, and norms, and rules – and then there’s Evy.

(Not Evelyn, not Miss Carnahan. Just Evy.)

In the face of the all those expectations, she withdraws from the world. She’s never going to fit in anyway, so she may as well get on with the business of being herself. There are parties, and social calls, and the odd invitation or two, but far less than one would expect for the daughter of two famous explorers, replete with riches and wild stories. It takes time, it seems, for people to appreciate that in a woman.

(Well, she’s working on it.)

Her parents do try, and Evy can feel the ache of her mother’s youth in how she tutors her daughter in skills young ladies don’t usually have. While her father is lecturing at the university, her mother takes her down the river and teaches her, slowly and with great patience, how to swim. “You must be prepared for any situation, Evy,” her mother says, gently supporting her as Evy struggles to float. “You must be better than anyone, in case you are the only one who can.”

Most of all, her mother teaches her not to be afraid.

Her mother’s sense of adventure is always so serious. Her father’s sense of adventure is laughing and jovial, and full of stories about campfire nights and duels with villains in black, and Evy thinks that’s how he fell in love with her mother. Laughing. He plies her with adventure stories, reads Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels to her at night, and reminds her, “You must be prepared for any situation, Evy. You must be better than anyone, in case you are the only one who can.” She takes these lessons to heart more in principle than in practice, but she takes them to heart all the same.

(The Egyptian language – she takes to heart. There is nothing she looks forward to so much as her mother speaking to her in her native tongue, and teaching her in the ancient tongue. They speak to each other in code, as the rest of the family looks on, bemused.)

Jonathan does what he can, but he’s gone more and more over the years, and Evy retreats, becomes more proper by accident and against her intentions. Somehow, becoming more studious in the pursuit of adventures makes her more palatable to others, and she buries herself further in her work to escape from the world and its conditional acceptance. Suitors come and go, friends disappear into society, and Evy works. She wants no part of this world. She just wants to be the best Egyptian scholar there is.

Her mother coaxes her along with tales of her homeland and the adventures she had when she was young, and when she leaves for the last time, another adventure calling, she brushes Evy’s hair back from her face and makes a promise.

“You’ll come with us next time, Evy.”

(They never come back.)

And Evy, who always secluded herself in dark library rooms and away from proper society, packs her bags, locks the doors to her childhood home, and telegrams Jonathan that she’ll meet in him in Cairo.

+

The air in Egypt sticks to her skin and makes it hard to sleep at night, and she breathes it all in the more deeply for that. For all the sunshine and life outside her doors, she falls into old patterns. She takes a position with the library her parents supported, more through cunning and the persuasion of her skills than charity (she hopes) and learns to expect an annual visit from Jonathan with worthless trinkets from a dig, or more likely, the flea market.

She files books, translates old texts, and applies to the Bembridge Scholars one more time. Somehow, her heart’s not really in it.

She’s not ready to go home.

(Despite Dr. Bey’s weekly remonstration, and her regular mistakes, and her habitual seclusion – she’s not ready.)

She’s waiting for something.

+

“Sculpture and Aesthetics, Socrates, Seth, volume one, volume two, and volume three, and T- Tuthmosis? What are you doing here?”

It’s actually quite terrifying when she falls, and she just barely gets out of danger’s way in time. Her heart is racing with adrenaline and she can barely process what has just happened when Dr. Bey races into the library, horror-struck.

“Look at this! Sons of the Pharaohs! Give me frogs, flies, locusts, anything but this! Compared to you, the other plagues were a joy!”

A little concern over her survival would have been appropriate, she thinks irritatedly, but doesn’t let it show. He leaves her to the library but she’s still a bit shaken, so when she hears noises in the storerooms, she leaves the scene of her crime.

She heads towards the unknown.

+

She’s met ruffians before, and rogues, and villains. There were plenty of those back in England, and she’s learned to spot them even faster in Cairo.

Mr. O’Connell is something else entirely, despite that wholly inappropriate kiss.

(Her skin tingles at the memory and she swallows hard.)

She needs to get out more, that’s all. And she is, although chasing down buried treasure is hardly what her old governess would call “good hunting grounds” for a suitor. No matter. There is buried treasure, buried knowledge, and Mr. O’Connell knows where it is. She eyes him carefully once more, critically. He clearly knows how to handle himself in a scrape, after surviving months in Cairo Prison before making it to the hangman’s noose. He has charm, she grudgingly admits, when he cares to. He knows his treasure. His history.

He also has a sense of honor, which is really the problem. He could have walked away from their deal; could have disappeared after the warden let him go. He certainly has the skills to do so, and yet, there is he, sitting across from her. It’s the honor that plagues her, out of context and unexpected.

“Why did you kiss me?” she asks, and he makes a chuffed sound, stealing a glance at her. “I don’t know, I was about to be hanged. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“Ooh -!” her outrage takes over and she grabs her book, leaving in a huff.

(She really needs to get out more.)

+

She was right, he is good in a fight. He also doesn’t seem to take her for granted, which is unusual, in her experience. Jonathan, for all his qualities, never quite gets past doing that. It’s alright; it’s what siblings do, she assumes. It’s just –

Mr. O’Connell – Rick – is unusual.

And when she borrows the Book of the Dead from the Egyptologist, Rick shifts over next to her in the sand. She’s so focused on the book and its secrets, and pleased with herself, that she doesn’t notice how close he is until the soft rumble of his voice interrupts her thoughts. She catches the whiff of his cologne, something she recognizes from the night before.

Right now, though, she’s focused on other things.

“You sure you oughta be playing around with that thing?”

“It’s just a book,” she murmurs back, still focused on her task. “No harm ever came from reading a book.”

And as she reads aloud, she can feel him lean in even closer to her. Right here, right now she feels strong, powerful, like all the lessons her mother taught her about survival and ancient languages and fear are culminating in this moment.

(Little does she know.)

+

She’s surprised at how easy it is to talk with him, contrary to all her girlhood lessons and knowledge of the world. It shouldn’t be so easy, not with him. Yet even now, when he’s arguing with her about leaving and getting away from this whole mummy mess, it’s easy. Something about it seems oddly familiar, like a memory that’s not her own.

“Evelyn,” he says, his voice full of exasperation, and she focuses her rebuttal, focuses on her case. Every time he says her name, it sounds new and fresh. It sounds like a call to arms, or a promise. Both, sometimes, and nothing like when anyone else says it. She still needs to convince him though, and he really needs to stop throwing her things haphazardly into her trunk. She’s staying. He needs to stay, and help her save the world.

He leaves.

In a huff of outrage and frustration, she steels herself to handle the mess she’s made. She never really expected anything else, but in the last few days she’s found his skills – him – a comfort and an asset. But she’s on her own, and she knows what to do.

She heads to the library.

+

He didn’t leave.

It was really a moot point, almost a default action, but he didn’t leave, and now they’re racing down the streets of Cairo in a stolen car and despite her fear and surprisingly mild sense of guilt over this disaster, she’s never felt so alive. Damn mummies!

(Damn.)

It gets worse, of course, before it gets better.

+

When it ends, and somehow they’re not dead – well, Beni is, but she did warn him – and somehow don’t have the Book of the Living because of Jonathan being Jonathan, she kisses Rick. Again. Or he kisses her. The details don’t matter.

(Well, not those details.)

It’s familiar and unusual all at once, and the fear in the back of her mind, fear about mummies and death and her own sense of guilt, fades to a soft buzz, and then away. There’s no space for fear or guilt in this space, in this right now, and she raises herself onto her toes, just a little. When they break free, Jonathan’s complaints caught by the wind, she looks at Rick and for the first time in a long time – she relaxes. It’s familiar, and unusual.

(And right.)

+

The trip back to the river port takes less time than when they first came out, and though she doesn’t have much experience with this, or at least with someone like Rick, she trusts herself. She knows where she goes, he’ll follow.

(Despite all the reasons not to, he always has.)

The first night out on the river, she finds him on the deck again, cleaning his guns. She sits down and smiling at him companionably, starts reading while they sit in comfortable silence for a bit. It’s Rick who speaks first, and she’s startled by the note of nervousness in his voice. His eyes stay trained on his task, and her own nerves start to catch up.

“When we get back to Cairo…” he says, and she tries to remember how to breathe. Her mother’s words reach out to her again, pushing back at the fear. He doesn’t seem to know how to continue, and he finally meets her gaze. Swallows hard. “I’d like to stay. If that’s okay.” With you, hangs in the space between them, and she relaxes, breathes. Trusts herself.

“That sounds like a good idea,” she says, smiling, and the relief that crosses his face makes her stomach clench. They still both have many secrets, but she thinks she just unlocked one of his. He’s not used to having this either.

“Okay then,” he says, a grin slanting his mouth, and he ducks his gaze back to his tools. A sudden faith springs from within her, and she closes her book and stands. He looks up, surprised, until she leans down to whisper softly in his ear.

(They neither are the only ones, now. Less unusual and more familiar with each day.)

“Don’t be too long,” she says softly, squeezing his shoulder, and then slips away. She doesn’t look back.

She knows he’ll be there.

Finis

Date: 2016-06-04 02:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] earnmysong.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for this, darling! It's a thing of beauty and I adore it!

“You must be prepared for any situation, Evy. You must be better than anyone, in case you are the only one who can.” -- I can totally see something like this motivating her character and it's perfect!

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