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Sanctuary - Arrangements
This is what I've been doing today instead of wrapping presents.  But, hey, I spent the morning doing the last minute shopping, and I don't have to be at my sister-in-law's until 11:30, so I figured I could indulge just a little! 

It's 1943, and Nikola wants to do James a favor.  Sort of.  (PG-13 for sexual references?  And, of course, Jack the Ripper.) 

The clock on the mantel chimed the quarter hour.  James glanced up from the latest report from MI6’s Abnormal section, confirming that he still have almost an hour before he was expected at what passed for dinner, and looked back at the badly-typed pages. A Dutch fisherman and his selkie wife had managed to make it across the channel from a fishing town north of Rotterdam, and confirmed a series of attacks on SS personnel in their area.  The Nazis were said to  be moving in special units in response, and Colonel Menzies would like Dr. Watson’s assessment of these units’ capabilities, since the Dutch couple seemed to have exaggerated significantly.  James lifted an eyebrow at that.  Menzies would like to think so, of course, but unfortunately the Jaghund were precisely as described, putatively Aryan Abnormals set to catch Abnormals.  He reached for his fountain pen, scrawled Not exaggerated, Jas. Watson beneath the last paragraph of the report, and set it in his tray for Freya to send back. 

That was one of the biggest differences between this war and the last:  in the First War, Abnormals had either done their best to stay out of the way, or fought as citizens, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans.  Most of the Sanctuary’s work had been rescuing populations displaced by the fighting, or — in one memorable case — rescuing the sappers who had accidentally overrun a rather nasty nest of rattus scitus.  It had never been a civil war within their own population.  But the Nazis and their racial doctrines had changed that, as they had changed so much else. 

And he was procrastinating.  His lips tightened in annoyance at his own weakness, and he reached for the slim file that lay buried beneath the other papers.  The label was handwritten, as were the papers within:  this was not a dossier he shared with anyone, not even Helen, who had more right than most to see its contents.  He salved his conscience with the notion that he would tell her eventually, and reached for a blank sheet of paper. 

The murders in Driel were clearly John’s work, flatly impossible unless the killer could teleport away after the men’s throats were cut.  The descriptions of the wounds were minimal, of course, but conclusive.  From this latest report,  he’d moved on, and added three more SS men to his tally.  He copied the details in his meticulous script, biting down the anger that threatened to crash over him like a black wave.  Yes, it was, in some sense, useful to kill the enemy, but John had no sense — didn’t care what it would do to the people in the villages, the ones who’d endure the reprisals for what he’d done —

The door of the office clicked open, and he looked up, scowling.  Nikola Tesla smiled cheerfully back at him, and waved a bottle of wine in his general direction.  In his other hand, he carried a pair of Helen’s best crystal goblets.  The wine was one of the good burgundies, James noted without surprise.  The ones that would be impossible to replace until the war was over.

“I’ve come to remind you that Helen expects you to join her for dinner.  And since she’s hosting an austerity meal, I thought we might see if we can’t improve it a bit.”

“Dinner isn’t for fifty minutes,” James said.  He carefully closed the file that detailed John’s latest killing spree and slipped it into the drawer of his desk.  “And we don’t dress.”

“All the more reason to have a glass of wine, if we don’t even have Helen’s decolletage to distract us from the food,” Nikola answered. 

“No, thank you.”

Nikola ignored him, deftly manipulating a corkscrew, then poured them each a glass and set James’s on the papers in front of him.

“I said no,” James said.

Nikola clinked his glass gently against the one he’d left for James, and took a long swallow of the wine.  “Ah, that’s good.  I’ve always liked the ‘38 bordeaux.”

James leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers, letting his eyes flicker over Nikola’s thin figure, the creases in his coat and trousers and the marks of travel on his cuffs.  A train ride — not a long one, just the usual wartime crowding and inconvenience — and then the walk to the Sanctuary, but not directly to the Sanctuary.  The Hotel Metropole, then, and MI9, and that meant Nikola had come from Bletchley Park.  He reached for the wine after all, took a careful sip. 

“No,” he said, for the third time, and Nikola put his hand on his hip.

“Oh, come on, James, don’t pretend you know what I’m here to ask.”

“You want me to come to Bletchley,” James said. “I can’t.  I’ve too much work to do here.”

“You really should let me make my offer,” Nikola said.  “It’s one of my better ideas.”

James took a larger swallow of the wine.  “Even more reason not to.”

“Cruel,” Nikola said.  He held the wine up to the light.  “A bit of sediment — you might want to consider moving these deeper into the vault, I don’t think bombing is good for the vintage.”

James waited, and after a moment, Nikola smiled.  His teeth were normal, but his eyes were a little darker than usual, and James moved his hand a little closer to the unlocked drawer that held his revolver.

“It would be a good deed,” Nikola said.  “And I know you love those.  There’s a scientist on the staff, brilliant young man — the one who’s working on the codes —”

“The codes that you’re not supposed to know about?” James asked.

Nikola smiled again.  “Yes, those codes. I’ve given him one or two ideas to play with.  Anyway, he’s a bit high strung, and I’m sure a visit from someone like you, someone who knows how to deal with the military, would be very helpful.  Especially someone with a brain.”

James narrowed his eyes, assessing the cues of stance and shifting weight.  “You sound — are you trying to arrange an assignation for me?”

“Oh, my God,” Nikola said.  “James, nobody calls it that any more.”

“So you admit —”

“That I’m trying to fix you up?”  Nikola’s smile was dangerous.  “And what’s your alternative?  Sit around and count how many people Johnny’s killed this month?  Don’t think I don’t know about your secret file.”

James froze.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell Helen,” Nikola went on.  “Though you’re going to have to tell her eventually, especially if you decide to have Intelligence do something about him.  Though if I were you, I’d wait until after the war, he seems to be doing an exceptionally nice job of killing their guys rather than ours —”

“Nikola.”  He meant the word as a warning, but it came out more like a plea.  And that was appalling enough that he reached for the other subject, even though it was almost as dangerous.  “In any case, what makes you think I need you to arrange anything for me?”

 “I’m not doing it for you,” Nikola said.  “It’s Alan I’m thinking about.  He could use some cheering up, some sympathetic company.  In fact, if I had more time, and if I knew more people in London right now, I’d definitely look for someone a little younger —”

“Thank you.”

“— but right now you’re the only person I know who seems at all suitable.  And you already have all the security clearance you need, and you could probably get him interested in Abnormals, so —”  Nikola spread his hands, careful not to spill the wine.  “Why not take a trip to Bletchley?”

Because I don’t need you to manage my affairs, James thought.  Because I have work to do, and if any part of that involves keeping track of John Druitt’s murders, well, that’s my business.  He had been to Bletchley before, though, could guess which of the scientists Nikola meant:  Turing, the one in charge of Hut 8.  He’d liked him, insofar as exchanging a few words could lead to liking, and it would be nice to be out of the city even for a day. 

“Oh, very well,” he said, and the clock struck seven from the mantel.

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You are awesome with awesome sauce! Poor put upon James, not wanting what he really wants! Trying to convince himself to do the thing he really wants to do anyhow, and Nikola being a good friend despite himself!

So good!

Oh, James. It's not that he's depressed, and could really use a friend getting him out of the house and trying to set him up with someone congenial. That couldn't possibly be true. He's just indulging Nikola. And indulging idle curiosity. Really.

They are very dear. (And, oh James again, brooding over John's murders, although he really has to reach for reasons why killing SS soldiers during the war is a Bad Thing ...)

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Yeah, the Turing situation sucked beyond words - I think the thing that angers me most is that he ended up in trouble because he tried to prosecute someone who robbed him. (penknife has it right, we need to figure out a way to spirit him away within the Sanctuary universe - fictional justice has its moments sometimes, poor taste or not.)

I'm a history geek, as you can probably tell, and I'm not being terribly careful to clarify the references. I'm kind of using the names and numbers to add flavor, and it doesn't really matter if people don't know exactly what they are? (though, because I am a geek, if you look it up, Menzies was head of MI6...)

And I do think that there would be a faction of Abnormals who would buy into the racial ideology. It would be so tempting to claim superiority over ordinary homo sapiens.... And not every Abnormal is going to be a good guy.

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The other thing I love about the show is the way that it references all kinds of weird Victorian literature - Holmes, the Invisible Man, the general very blurred line between science and the occult. I keep hoping they'll include either Carnacki the Ghost Hunter or the Prisoner of Zenda!

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Thanks! This is sort of what started that whole train of thought.... (And I adore your icon, btw!)

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