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The airship's flight to Europe passed uneventfully, although with a certain clandestine air that leant it spice. "Mr. Nast" took ill on the first night of the journey. His "wife" and "son" were busy tending him, and so barely in evidence.

D.C.I. Garrett -- or Doctor Garrett, now that she was no longer a Crown Investigator -- was all by herself enough of a scandal to serve as a distraction. With her blue carpetbag never out of arm's reach and her busy terrier and silent servant a travelling companions, Jack suspected she was very nearly the only topic of conversation among the other passengers and the crew.

At least, it was all Jack heard comment about. He wasn’t permitted to acknowledge as much as knowing the woman until they made landfall in Germany; he hoped the solitude wasn’t too hard on her.

He also realized, more vividly than he ever had, how Alice Liddell might have a point about the treatment of women in this time.

The second strangest part of the journey, for Jack, was when he realized Mrs. Smith was attempting to convince him to seduce her -- and that she had Sebastien’s tacit encouragement. (The wampyr understood his human lovers needed some of the delights beating hearts and warm flesh could provide from time to time. He only asked they be discreet.)

Jack had seen Sebastien arrange similar matches among other courtesans. He’d assumed himself immune as the most loved: It seemed Sebastien had merely been quashing the impulse out of consideration for Jack’s age.

Two years before, Jack likely would have gone along with it to be obliging. Now, though, he waited until Mrs. Smith had gone on a walk along the deck before calmly asking Sebastien if he’d perhaps lost his mind, or if he thought adding romantic jealousy to the mix would somehow help them win a revolution.

Phoebe kept a polite distance from then on, though Jack did catch her blushing when she looked at him from time to time.

But the very strangest bit of all was the passage over England. It occurred in daylight, when Sebastien was of necessity confined to his cabin or otherwise the interior of the ship. Jack feigned enjoyment of a luncheon with Mrs. Smith in the salon and watched green English countryside glide by, dotted with small forests and the white specks of sheep. The shadow of the Andrea Doria scudded across the earth below as clouds scudded across the sky above, and their bone china teacups rattled in the saucer when they set them down.

England. It wasn’t his country, not truly. But he’d spent more time there than anywhere; if he’d listened to some of his friends, he’d be there now -- in that now that was, in fact, a hundred and ten years away.

He hoped he’d see it again.

When the dirigible made landfall outside London on the last day of the year, although the layover was scheduled at thirteen hours, he did not disembark. He told himself it was about Sebastien, that he wanted to steal private moments with him while he could. That it would be bad for their ruse if the "son" abandoned his "sick father."

The truth was, he knew that if he saw people ringing in 1902, he’d begin wondering what was happening as 2011 turned into 2012, and where Emma was since their plans had been broken. And that was a useless path of thought.

He toasted the new year alone.

[OOC: NFB, NFI, rewritten from New Amsterdam. Part of this. Guess what canon relationship I hate?]

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Jack Priest

January 2017

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