"...and when I was throwing that guy across the street two more would come up and yell at me. I knocked one of them out and the other tried to shoot me! Can you imagine? I dodged away and hit him right in the face! That nose is totally destroyed and I'm not even sorry! I mean how dare they trying to rob me, huh?"
Hyde laughed and emptied his drink in one gulp and yelled for another one across the room.
"Anyway, I think I deserve some rest now", he said looking back at Bella who sat on the other side of the table. "You wanna join me?", he added with a seductive smile.
"Not today. I have to work out -"
"Naah, come on! Always work! You invite me for a drink and now this", he interrupted.
"No means no. I just wanted to tell you that -"
He shook his head and stood up putting on his mantle.
"Well, if I'm not welcomed to stay I'll go shall I . Thank you for the drinks, good night."
Then he left and went back home.
A few days later, when Jekyll finally granted him a day out, Hyde started his day with is usual walk to The Empire. Maybe he would just drink and start a fight or he would spend the day with Bella and if we're at that the night too. He smiled at the thought.
He walked up to the front door and found it locked. Unusual but maybe he was just early. It must have been around 9am by now. He decided to try the backdoor as that one should be open due to deliveries arriving and such, but it was locked too. The last way to enter was the balcony and so he climbed up the wall. The door there was also locked and through the window he could see that the room was empty and looked like it was left in a hurry.
He knocked a few times at the windows but no one would answer. The same happened on the other two doors and he made his way through the city without really having a destination in mind. He just wanted to find out why The Empire was closed and were Bella was.
"Maybe you could ask one of the girls who work there too.", said a voice in his head.
"What was that? Your mind should be asleep."
"I learned from you. And-"
"Yeah yeah, shut up. I've got more important things to do than talking to you."
"Like finding your girlfriend? You have no idea were she could be!"
"Well, I certainly don't need YOUR help!"
"And what are you planning to do, if I might ask?"
"Go to one of the girls and ask them."
"That was my idea. I could help you."
Hyde just shook his head and walked into another street back to The Empire from where the girls lived nearby.
When he asked them where Bella was they answered that she didn't tell them anything. They all just found a note in their mail this morning that they would all have a few free days till the next week, maybe longer. They didn't receive any further information as to why and till when exactly but the writing looked like Bella's so although they thought it was weird that she didn't tell them personally they just happily accepted their days off.
On the question where Bella could be they could only think of the warehouse where she ordered the alcohol and other drinks from and Hyde decided to look there next.
It could be that The Empire simply ran out of some stuff and needed new supplies and everything would be fine and back to normal in no time but why give the girls nearly a whole week off then? It was only Tuesday and the notes said something about next week or longer. Ordering some supplies couldn't possibly take that long could it?
Hyde nearly sprinted to the address of the warehouse the girls gave him and he nearly ran past it because of all the thoughts and possibilities running through his head. After a bit asking around he found the owner of the warehouse and asked if he received any orders from The Empire lately. The man didn't like to answer at first till Hyde looked at him with a glare that could murder. In the end he could only tell him that he received a letter on the evening the day before which simply stated that the usual orders where cancelled; without any information when or if they would order again from him. He even showed Hyde the letter; it was definitely Bella's handwriting and also signed by her.
Hyde stormed out of the warehouse and walked around the city aimlessly. Then one thought struck him like thunder. What if she was kidnapped and held somewhere against her will? The girls had last seen her on sunday when they left after work. Everything else anyone got where letters or notes. Someone could have forced her to write them so she wouldn't be missed too soon! What do they want from her? Where did they bring her? He couldn't let someone hurt her!
This was one of the rare moments when he was worried and didn't know what to do and it just felt miserable.
Without really noticing he had walked back home and now let himself fall on his bed. He wasn't even sure if he was alone in the old house or not and didn't care unless it would be that they had information about Bella. He had never felt so helpless before.
"What do I do? What do I do?"
"Maybe you should simply wait."
"She could be in danger! I can't just sit here and do nothing!", he shouted back, not caring if anyone could hear him.
"The girls's notes said The Empire will probably open again next week and it can't open without Miss Charming can it? I'm sure she will be back by then."
"The notes could be faked or someone forced her to write them! You can't be sure about that! And why didn't she sent me a note too?"
"Maybe she was in a hurry. Anyway, what are you going to do? Any plan how to find out the truth? You can't keep running around London and hope you will randomly get any information."
"And what's your plan then?"
"As I said: just wait."
"Jekyll I can't cope with this uncertainty!"
For the first time he felt tears welling up in his eyes and blurring his sight and he quickly blinked them away.
"It's okay, I can understand that but you need to calm down now. Is there anything I can do to help you to relax?"
"Shut up and let me sleep. You get control back. Only wake me up when you get news about her."
With that he closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind until he fell into a light sleep.
"What's wrong?", Garson asked when Jekyll came down to the laboratory in the evening after he woke up again. Robert shook his head and went over to a shelf with some chemicals and started to rearrange them.
"You can't fool me, I heard you shouting upstairs earlier. Now tell me."
"Him. You heard him shouting."
"And why was that?"
"He can't find Bella." He stated.
"That's the problem. We don't know, no one knows. He has been running around London the whole day to find out but the only trace he got are some vague notes."
Robert then continued to explain everything Hyde could find out while Garson listened to the whole story without interrupting him. When Jekyll had finished his explanation he looked at Garson who nodded a few times as in thought.
"Maybe you could ask MI0 to help you."
"Well, they still keep a look on everything that you or Hyde do and you said the two see each other quite often so I guess it's possible that they kept track of her too."
"Oh Garson! What would I do without you! Thank you!"
The next morning Robert left the house right after breakfast and about an hour later he arrived at MI0 and stated the case. They really had some people keeping an eye on her and after some back and forth they handed him their reports from the days since Hyde had last seen her.
Someone lead him to a room where he could them without disturbance and while he walked he woke up Hyde in his thoughts. He nearly flinched when Hyde screamed in excitement.
The room was one that looked like it would normally be used for conferences and such. He put the reports on the table and sat down. He knew that he was probably watched but he didn't care for they would find out anyway. Sooner or later an agent would overhear something. Right now the most important thing was to find Bella and to get Hyde back into his normal state.
At first the reports stated nothing unusual except that she went to a train station on sunday. She spent 15 minutes inside and then came out again, sent a letter and then continued to follow her normal routine. On monday morning she left The Empire with a suitcase and went again to the station. Unfortunately the agent couldn't make her out in the masses when he followed inside and therefore couldn't tell which train she took. The report from Tuesday only stated that the agent watching the station in case she came back. She didn't obviously.
Robert took some notes on times and places and then left.
Back home he searched for a plan for the trains leaving the station at the time on Monday he noted from the reports. With consideration that she may went to the station early to be sure to catch the train they got a total five trains. Two of them had routes only going through the city so she probably didn't take one of them when she had a suitcase with her and didn't show up again the same day. Two others had the same route going somewhere north; a look at the plan showed that the trains on that route left every hour and took about four hours to reach their destination. From there they would then come back the same route. The last train went south and had it's destination in a town at the coast.
All in all there were only two routes she could have taken. The route in the north counted five stops; the one to the south three. The next step Robert took was to find out if Bella had any family or close friends living in one of these towns.
He asked Garson who knew of an aunt she once told him about but couldn't remember where she lived or if Bella even told him. Next he asked the girls who worked at The Empire. They also knew of that aunt Garson spoke of but never learned where she lived. One of them could at least say that Bella had no contacts in the north. The girl herself was coming from there and they talked about it a few times where Bella stated that she never went there and also had no motivation to ever go there. Robert thanked them and went back home and up to his room.
"So, what do you think?"
"Only three stations left we could go now!"
"Well, except there is only one town left."
"What do you mean?"
"You could arrive at the other two in one and a half or two hours. That would be a day trip so why would she pack a suitcase for that? To the last station it takes about three and a half to four hours depending on how fast the train goes. Also-"
"Then let's go there!"
"I wasn't finished. In the last town there is also a harbour from which you can take a ferry to France. We don't know if the stayed in England or not. Do you see the problem?"
"Yeah...but we have to go there! We'll ask around and find out where she is."
"Is it not enough that we know that she simply decided to take a holiday and wasn't kidnapped or anything?"
"We've came so far I won't give up now!"
"Okay, fine. I guess there is no way to stop you anyway. Do you happen to know where my suitcase is?"
Two hours later Robert bought a ticket and took the train going south. In the evening he arrived at the town at the coast. He went to the nearest hotel to book a room for the night. He left his suitcase upstairs and headed to the hotel's bar and asked around if someone had seen a woman fitting the description of Bella. The fourth person he asked was a sailor from one of the ferries who told him to have brought a woman that perfectly matched the description over to France on Monday afternoon. Robert immediately asked when the next ferry would leave which was at 7am. He thanked the sailor and went up to his room to get some sleep for the next day would probably be quite exhausting.
He arrived at the docks at 6.34am and left with the ferry at exactly 7am. It would take about three to four hours to arrive depending on the waves and wind. In the end they arrived at the French harbour at around 10.20am.
Luckily many people in the town spoke English due to the many ships coming from England and after asking around for some time an elderly woman offered him to show him where she went if he would help her carry some bags with food she bought on the market. Her English was nearly perfect and she told him she lived in the same street where Bella went. Robert agreed and they slowly made their way through the town. The woman, Marguerite, as he now knew she was called, told him about the town and her own life on the way as if he was a long known friend and he couldn't help to like the old lady and laugh with her when she told her stories. After 40 minutes they arrived at the old woman's house. She offered him to stay for a bit. He politely refused and asked where he should look for Bella. She pointed to a small house across the street. She told him that he would always be welcome at her house if he ever needed something. He thanked her and crossed the street to go the small house.
He knocked on the door and a woman he didn't know opened him. When he wanted to explain why he was there she shut the door right in front of him without saying a word or listening to him. He knocked again but she didn't open. Robert sighed and looked around. Across the street stood a bench and he went over and sat down to wait; either for Bella to arrive or the woman to leave to try knocking again in case Bella was inside. He saw that the woman was aware of him waiting across the street as she kept looking out the windows over to him. He did not know how long he waited but when the sun was nearly down he decided that he would need a place to stay for the night. Although it didn't feel right to ask such a big thing of someone he only met once he went back to the elderly woman's house and knocked at her door. She opened the door and greeted him with all the happiness in the world. She lead him to a guestroom and said she would call him for supper. Till then he could stay in the room and get comfortable and unpack his suitcase if he wanted to. He thanked her again and sank on the bed when she left the room.
"Maybe we shouldn't have come here.", he thought.
"We are so close! Of course we should have come here! Bella must go outside sometime and then everything will be fine. Tomorrow I shall see her again!"
"You love her, don't you? Still so much energy after this long day."
"I could take control if you're that tired."
"You would scare the old lady."
"I can behave! Come on, it's just for the supper and could say I'm tired afterwards and get back here. And her eyesight can't be the best anymore at her age. She won't notice."
"Fine. But if we have to sleep on the street tonight it's your fault, remember that."
"Yeah yeah yeah, now give me control."
By now they both were used to the transformation and it became easier to do it. Also it had become faster and more silently especially if they both agreed to it and worked together instead of against each other.
When it was done Hyde stretched a bit and then tried to get his hair like Jekyll's so the elderly woman wouldn't notice. When he was finished she already called for him. He straightened his shoulders and walked out of the room to the direction the voice came from. He met the elderly woman on the hallway where she carried a few plates to the dining room.
"Are you married?", Hyde asked confused as the woman was carrying three plates but he hadn't seen a ring on her hands.
"Hm?", she followed his eyes to the plates and laughed, "Oh no, I never found the right one. My niece has come over for a few days she will dine with us. Of course you can also eat in your room if you want."
"No. No, I was just curious.", he answered.
He followed the old lady to the dining room. The woman's niece was not yet there so he just sat down and waited and tried the wine. Sweeter than the ones you would get in England and by all means not bad but he still preferred whiskey. The old woman went back to the kitchen to get the food.
Suddenly another door opened behind him and he heard a gasp. He turned around and there stood Miss Isabella Charming and stared at him in disbelief. He got up from his chair, also staring at her.
"What are doing here?", she asked.
"I missed you and-", he answered and put on his seductive smile.
"But you didn't listen when I tried to tell you where I was going. How did you find me?"
"Much asking, a bit research and-...wait, you told me?"
"Yeah, I did, but you were too drunk to listen!", for a moment she glared at him then her look softened. "But why did you follow me?"
"You were just gone and was worried that something could have happened to you so I started looking for you and ended up here."
"You came all the way just for me? Because you were worried?", tears welled up in her eyes and she smiled at him.
"Yes. And because I love you."
"I love you too."
Then she ran over to him and fell in his arms. He caught her and they embraced each other for a long moment. Then he put a hand on her cheek and wiped her tears away. He smiled again and then bend down to kiss her gently.
They were so overwhelmed by each others touch that they didn't notice Marguerite standing at the door for a moment before silently smiling leaving.