Gertrude Robinson was not a woman predisposed to soft gentle words mincing deferentially around difficult subjects.
"Gertrude. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"I'm sure you're aware. But I thought it best to have this little chat face to face, to avoid any...misunderstandings."
"I'm sure there are any number of things you could be referring to."
"Then let me get right to the point. You, I am sure, are looking for ways to get rid of me. While I am looking for ways to get rid of you. For the time being, we both have several inconvenient roadblocks standing in our way, but that won't last forever."
"You're always so refreshingly clear sighted Gertrude."
"Hm?" said Elias, with a grin in his voice. Peter, drifting softly in the Lonely with his ears vaguely tuned in, would have bet solid money it was entirely real. Elias couldn't help himself sometimes, even when he was in fear for his life or you genuinely had him cornered, the man had perfected those deft little mannerisms that made it seem like for all the world you were doing what he wanted. Impossible man.
"If you try to kill me, you're going to have to get through the Cult of the Lightless Flame. And a few of my own little amusements prepared for such an eventuality."
Elias gasped in mock outrage. "Gertrude! Suspicious from the beginning? What a life you have led, to have such thoughts and so early in our work partnership."
Gertrude snorted. "Hardly. Back to my point, you shameless old snake, I can't kill you without either losing my eyes or my life."
"And of course, your assistants." Elias slyly pointed out. "But that was never really the sort of thing to slow you down, was it?"
"In fact," said Gertrude calmly, refusing to rise to the bait, "I had been intending to make them the subject of my next point."
"You may have been a bit busy, but I should hope it did not escape your notice that Fiona manifested."
Elias felt his eyebrows threaten to rise to his hairline before he subdued them. "Ah? Well I suppose congratulations are in order then. Wonderful news, Jonathan will be so happy to have added to our little 'family'. I wonder if I should throw a party."
Gertrude snorted again. "What, have a banner that says 'Congratulations, it's a Grandmother'?"
A genuine bark of laughter escaped Elias. Peter relished in the sting that came from hearing it after so long, and knowing he had not been the one to inspire it. That he was inches away, and yet he was entirely incapable of reaching out and joining in. All he had to do was leave the Lonely, but the energy required to do so...to step out and face other people, to try and talk and even think of what he had to say...Peter felt his exhaustion rise and the feeling he could only describe as "grey" rising behind his eyes. It didn't feel like the moment before crying. It felt like when you had to cry, only to realize you had no tears left.
Elias's mirth didn't last long. Peter would have wagered that Gertrude's face had done that thing, where her expression fell so sharply into cold-eyed neutrality that you felt the very air change. Brr. Terrifying woman.
"Do you know what her powers are? She can sense where Jonathan is at all times. The Eye has chosen her specifically as one of Jonathan's minders. If you so much as breathe a word in relation to that little stunt of a threat you gave her, you won't just be hurting her. You'll be hurting the Eye's plans for Jonathan."
Only silence from Elias. Gertrude continued on with dreadful relish.
"You can't touch her. And if I find out you try to further her connection to the Eye- if there is even a line of a Statement that crosses her path- then rest assured, Jonah, my plans will find an accelerated timeline. I may not be able to kill you- but we both know there's so very many things that are worse than death, don't we? That goes for the rest of them as well. If you meddle with the Archives, then believe me when I say you will find yourself living out Elias Bouchard's lifetime in unpleasant circumstances."
Peter felt that Elias may have needed another voice by his side, but as he stepped out of the Lonely, Gertrude's eyes swiveled to him immediately.
"Well well well, look who finally decided to join us." she said with such devastating precision that Peter had no choice but to step back immediately into the Lonely.
Peter drifted further, his only measure of time the vague snippets he caught of Elias on the phone.
“There’s nothing illegal about it! Standing on the sidewalk is- How dare you! I don’t care for your tone and your wretched insinuations- creepy? I was merely waiting for Jonathan- yes yes, I know when school ends. Oh? Now you’re banning me from the coffee shop? I wasn’t aware you owned it. It is my right as a paying customer- no! I was not looking in the windows! The shop is across the street- I don’t care what your staff thinks they see- Investigate? Investigate! I’ll have them investigate your entire facility you pompous-“
Peter tuned back out. It was safer in the Lonely, away from the shouting. The anger. Even if it wasn't directed at him- the energy it took to listen and make sure it wasn't coming his way, or be expected to chime in on anyone's side. It was too much. It was so much safer in the Lonely. Even if it was beginning to hurt. It was a good kind of hurt. It was the kind of hurt he could control. He could choose to step out of the Lonely, he knew that. He could. He was sure of it. If it was hurting him to be alone, at least it was his choice. It was so much safer to be hurt when you got to control what kind of hurt it was. It was still under his control. He was fine. He could handle it.
Peter stopped using his ears to hear words. Or rather, the words were muffled. Indistinct. It would have taken too much energy to try to decipher them.
The sounds of a child. Or two children? A door closing, or opening. It hardly mattered.
Later. Much later, or maybe no time at all. It sounded quiet. He perhaps could take a peek out- he saw an old woman he didn't recognize, and two children coloring, and then Gertrude Robinson opened the door, Looked right at him, and said archly "Ah, he finally emerges!"
Peter slammed the Lonely back around himself.
The Lonely was beginning to smell. Peter was mostly blind to it, but sometimes he'd catch a whiff and be revolted. But he stopped noticing it soon enough, and it was never quite at the level that he had to leave. It came back though. Just to remind him what kind of place he was in. What kind of place he was building around himself.
He'd pulled books off the bookshelf, and opened the drawers in Elias's office. He couldn't remember when he'd done that, but he must have. It didn't matter. In the real world, the office was neat and tidy. It didn't matter what Peter did in "his" room. It didn't have to be neat. Putting something back where it "belonged" just wasn't necessary enough to use his energy on.
It was fine. No one else was going to see this anyways.
Elias and a man Peter didn't know were arguing.
Something about...children? Something about children leaving, or playing together?
It didn't matter. Peter stopped processing the words again. All that mattered was that Elias wasn't alone. That meant it wasn't safe to come out.
If pressed, Peter wouldn't have been able to say what he expected anyone else to do that was so horrible. All he knew was that it wasn't comfortable to leave. It wasn't right to leave. He felt disconnected from his body, but he thought, sometimes, that he might need something. He might be hungry? How long had it been since he ate? Or drank? Or went to the bathroom? There was nothing but books and curios in this room. He had nothing.
He had no one.
He thought that maybe he should leave, but there were people out there. He could wait a little bit longer. It surely wasn't that bad yet.
Finally, the office was quiet.
The Lonely one and the real one.
Peter cautiously stepped out, and saw Elias working quietly at his desk.
He reveled in the silence for a little while, staring blankly at Elias's bowed back as the pencil made small scratching sounds.
No one around to ask him "Where have you been all this time?" or "Finally decided to leave your hole then?" or "Look who it is!"
Just the quiet.
But it was different. It wasn't the quiet of the Lonely. There was a small bit of warmth just from having another person in the room, just to be near someone again. Peter swayed a bit, and in between his blinks Elias had quietly pushed back his chair and stood next to him and- oh. Oh he was softly cupping his cheek.
"Oh Peter, it has been too long for you, hasn't it?" said Elias gently. Peter could only nod. He began to feel shame again, prickling up at being seen like this. Disheveled, swaying, and he was sure he stunk. But he was too tired to fix it. He was too tired to think.
He was led gently, so gently, through quiet halls into a quiet car, which drove through quiet streets, until they passed a figure walking, hunched in his coat alone on the London streets.
The car pulled to a stop, and Peter got out. He fed.
And when he got back into the car, the street was empty, and Elias drove him onward. Through silent streets, the lamplight scrolling across the car windows as they drove, until they passed a woman holding herself in the lamplight outside of an empty closed shop. She stayed in the light, and Peter knew she was hoping desperately that she could be safe if only she was somewhere well lit, but she needed to find somewhere else with people and she had thought this place stayed open later and-
And Peter Lukas fed again.
He got back in the car and nodded when Elias asked him if he felt better.
Elias drove him back to his house, and Peter Lukas fell asleep in Elias's empty bed in his empty shell of a house.
When he awoke, he knew the house was gloriously empty. Awfully kind of Elias to sleep somewhere else, Knowing that Peter could barely stand to be around another person last night.
As Peter yawningly used the master shower, he realized he felt up to a spot of breakfast. He toweled off, dressed in the clothing he had left here last time, and left the house, completely missing the changes to the guest room or the rest of the house. As far as he was concerned, it was exactly the same bland single bachelor house it had been when he had last arrived.
The house phone ringing disturbed the undampened silence that had already been broken by Peter's own footsteps. Peter picked it up with a jaunty "Good morning!", having just enough energy to recover his usual cheerful facade.
"My my, you're sounding better Peter." came the tinny sounds of a pleased Elias.
"Fit as a fiddle!" said Peter, with a broad grin that was only partially a lie. "I'll feel even better once you point me towards those statement givers you promised me."
"My dear Peter, who do you think those midnight snacks of yours were?"
"Eliiiiaaaas" pouted Peter.
"Oh very well, I may have a few more for you. Would you care to come up to the office?"
"I'll bring coffee!" said Peter cheerfully.
"Excellent. Oh, a bit of warning. There's someone I'd like you to meet."
Peter frowned into the receiver "Elias-"
"Peter. I promise you enough lonely souls to feed you for an eternity for brunch. This is important."
"Oh very well." said Peter uneasily.
"...you're not even going to ask who it is?"
"Shan't!" said Peter, cheeky again. "That's more your scene than mine."
"Peter," said Elias exasperatedly, "the Eye doesn't have a monopoly on asking basic questions."
Peter gave a broad shrug, knowing that Elias would See it.
"Oh you're impossible," groused Elias. He was always so prickly, thought Peter fondly, like a cat when you rubbed its fur wrong. Peter would enjoy this shore leave while he could, before their inevitable fight drove him back onto the Tundra. "Listen carefully Peter, this is important.”
“Is it anyone other than that kiddo you’ve been dragging around?”
There was that delightful flustered sigh of Elias’s. One of Peter’s favorite sounds.
“So you did realize. Honestly Peter, why must you insist on needling me so?”
“Someone has to.” said Peter cheerily. “Be a bit surprised if it was anyone else, if I’m being honest. He’s only been the only thing you’ve nattered my ear off about.”
“Yes, when I can get a hold of you. If you’d just keep that phone I bought you charged-“
Peter shrugged again, switching the bulky house phone to the other ear and twirling the cord. “I seem to remember someone else’s name on that bill.”
“Oh you know what I mean. Fine, picked up for you.”
“The Tundra is a fine ship but she wasn’t built with electrical ports everywhere Elias. Forgive me for not buying a ship that didn’t exist yet.”
“Well you could just-“ began Elias through gritted teeth.
“Unplug my lamp? And leave me in the dark?” Peter dramatically put a hand to his heart. “I never thought I’d see the day when you-“ “Peter-“ “-a devotee of the Eye” “-stop being ridiculous-“ “order me to plunge myself-“
Jon was having an ok morning, he guessed. Mr. Magnus was ignoring him to talk on the phone while he ate his breakfast. Which wasn’t the worst. But he’d gone somewhere last night and when he’d came back he smelled different.
Jon Knew that smell, and it made him uneasy. He didn’t know why he Knew it though.
He wished Mr. Magnus would finish up fighting (was it fighting?) with the person on the phone. He wanted to go out and play with Gerry. It was Saturday, which meant he could have the whole day to play with Gerry as long as his father didn’t find out.
Jon tried to fish out the remaining cereal from his bowl that was mostly leftover milk. Fiddling with his spoon helped him concentrate on the problem.
At first he and Gerry got to play all the time, since Mr. Eric’s page was in the Archives. Gerry slept down there, and Mr. Eric Looked over him, and that was brilliant because Jon could come down to Gerry or Gerry could come up to him.
But then Mr. Eric had enrolled Gerry in school too, but it wasn’t Jon’s school which was so unfair. If they’d gone to school together they could have been best friends at school too, instead of lonely and picked on at separate schools. Jon wasn’t stupid, he Knew Gerry would have been in a different classroom since he was bigger, but there was a difference between another classroom and another school. And Gerry’s schedule was different. He got back so much later, which wasn’t fair, because Jon had to be by himself for hours and then Gerry had homework and they didn’t get to hang out for ages until it was time for dinner and they didn’t even get to eat together even though they were in the same building and it wasn’t fair.
“Jonathan.” said Mr. Magnus as he snapped his phone closed. Jon started guiltily, for no reason. “Go and clean up your room. We will be having company.”
“In the secret rooms?” Asked Jon curiously.
“Yes. Jonathan Sims we talked about Compelling. Go to your room this instant.”
“But I didn’t mean to!” protested Jon.
“No excuses. Five. Four.”
“I didn’t mean to compel! It was an accident!”
It wasn’t fair- Jon needed Mr. Magnus to Know that he hadn’t meant to be Bad but now Mr. Magnus wasn’t even listening and-
Jon gave up and scurried to his room. He didn’t Know what would happen if Mr. Magnus got to One, but he bet it would be something horrible like not being able to play with Gerry all day. It wasn’t fair.
He stomped around his room and started throwing clothes on the floor into the hamper with extreme prejudice. He flopped onto his bed and screamed into a pillow, just a little bit, and kicked his feet, just for a few moments, until he felt better. He angrily yanked his sheets into order, and fluffed his pillows in a movement that wasn’t so much fluffing as it was punching.
He hated not being listened to. He hated it so much when people thought he was being bad on purpose and he wasn’t and-
Elias frowned at he Looked in on Jonathan. This boded ill for Jonathan’s first meeting with Peter. He hoped this mood would pass soon. He began to nervously clean up from breakfast and scrubbed the dishes a bit harder than strictly necessary as he fretted.
Sometimes Jonathan’s moods were like a summer storm. The smallest thing would set him off, and he’d be in a terrible temper but it would fade after he’d had a good cry. Sometimes Jonathan’s mood were longer lasting. He seemed to have no limit to the length he could hold a grudge, and if something set him off often the whole day would be ruined.
Jonathan was a fairly sweet tempered child, but he got so overwhelmed sometimes. It was unnerving to see the switch. Elias stayed far, far away when Jonathan got this way. He assumed that other guardians never had to worry their charges would smite them if they attracted their attention.
But there was nothing for it. Jonathan had to have discipline, or he’d be a completely ungovernable hellion. Elias had seen the results of overly lax parenting, and he had no intention of letting Jonathan go to seed like that. He needed him useful and biddable when it came time for the Watchers Crown. So if he needed to take risks now while he was young, it was nerve wracking but necessary.
As Elias scrubbed, he idly thought about baby elephants. Put a rope around them when they were small, and by the time they grew to their full size, they had stopped fighting the rope. Never even realizing they had grown strong enough to break the rope with ease.
Honestly though, Jonathan probably had already outgrown the rope. And wasn’t that a terrifying thought? Elias fervently prayed he never realized it.
Jon was working out his feelings by aggressively resorting his entire bedroom. It felt good to move things around. He had read somewhere that sharks had to keep swimming or they’d die. He felt like that too sometimes. If he stopped reorganizing for even a moment then his bedroom would be a shambles for weeks and weeks until he got like this again so he refused to stop even a little bit.
He wished he was as strong as Mr. Magnus so he could push his bed into a new corner of the room. But he didn’t want to have Mr. Magnus here at all in case he was still mad. Jon didn’t want anyone disappointed in him Looking at him at all.
He made an entirely new organization system and told himself he was going to stick with this one for sure this time. All of his toys were arranged around his bed, by size and color. The smaller ones faced inwards, so the could Watch him while he slept, and the big ones faced outwards so they could Watch for any threats. They were sorted by size and color and it was so satisfying it made something settle in Jon’s chest.
While he was cleaning, he had found things he’d thought he’d lost, like a whole jacket and some jeans he liked, and a good pen, and a single shoe, and a lot of dust.
He hadn’t thought he’d lost the dust, of course, but he hadn’t realized how much of it there was until he began to sneeze. He Watched the dust drift sometimes, staring off with nothing in his mind but Watching the motes. And since he Watched them, they must be his. And if they were his, and he hadn’t remembered they were there, then he guessed they counted as being lost.
Speaking of which, something was pinging him in the back of his mind. Something about something being lost. Something he’d misplaced, maybe? That described a lot of things.
It bothered Jon when he Knew he was forgetting something but couldn’t grasp what he’d forgotten.
He pushed his laundry hamper out of his room so he’d remember to take it to be washed and kept cleaning.
Elias Looked in on Jonathan and saw a maelstrom. This child was so perplexing- Elias had to harp and harp and harp for Jonathan to clean his room and put things where they needed to be, and then sometimes he would get into a strop and do…this.
Elias bewilderedly Watched Jon run out of his room, gallop to the bathroom, grab a handful of Q-tips, and charge back into his room to use those Q-tips to scrub minuscule amount of dirt out of the corners of his room.
What was the cause of this wild swing between utter apathy at disorganization and a reverent need for order? If only Peter weren’t due to arrive so soon- this was vital data to be gathered and Elias hated the thought of interrupting it.
It didn’t take Jonathan that long to finish reorganizing his room, as he truthfully had very little. Elizabeth Sims hadn’t expected to take in a child, and had only had him for two years before Jonathan came under Elias’s care. In the turmoil of his young life, he had acquired very little other than a host of abandonment issues. When his father had died, Jonathan had been two and his mother had poured all their liquid money into his funeral and survival afterwards. Very little left over for toys, even if she had been inclined to buy them within the depths of her mourning. Three years saw her own decline, and then his grandmother had to deal with moving Jonathan in and the estate sale. Most things hadn’t survived the move or the years as Jonathan grew. When the movers had brought Jonathan’s things to Elias’s home, it had mostly been a jumble of old clothes and battered school supplies. And most of those had been left behind as Elias moved them out of his facade of a home.
So truly Jonathan only had to organize what Elias had been able to procure in those shopping bags. And still he managed to make a mess. Elias probably shouldn’t have bought him so many art kits, he mused as he watched Jonathan fuss with organizing them. So many little fiddly pieces.
Eventually, it seemed Jonathan had completed his cleaning to his own satisfaction. The methods of organization and why they were superior to the way they had been before were inscrutable to Elias, but if Jonathan was content and the floor was clear he supposed he had no objections.
…of course, thought Elias as he watched Jon sit on his bed and relax, he could have some objections in the case. Vis a vis the fact the Jonathan seemed to have completely forgotten he pushed his hamper into the hallway.
Elias had tested this over and over, and as best as he could determine, if something wasn’t within Jonathan’s immediate line of sight it was likely he would forget about it entirely. Even if he was the one who put it there.
Could it be that containing all the “Stories” within Jonathan’s mind meant information was essentially filed away? No matter if it was mundane or arcane?
Speaking of which, it was probably best if Elias went through the pockets of Jonathan’s clothes before the washer got to them. Or would it be better to remind Jonathan to do it?
Elias was dumbfounded. There was damn near a treasure trove in Jonathan’s pockets- train tickets, sticks, coins, crumpled museum pass stickers, hell he was surprised he hadn’t found a damn frog yet. But that was to be expected of a curious little boy. What truly shocked him was the carefully folded little Eye in the pocket of a jacket Elias thought had gone missing.
Jonathan had been so protective of it. He hadn’t gone anywhere without it for the longest time. And he hadn’t replaced it.
Elias had thought he had been carrying it around this whole time, but here it was, abandoned.
Was Jonathan turning away from their god?
Jon had thought he was in trouble still when Mr. Magnus had come into his room, but he had just wanted to empty his pockets before the laundry. Jon had forgotten about the hamper, and he was embarrassed Mr. Magnus had to remind him about it. He felt so stupid when he forgot things, because other people didn’t seem to. Other people seemed to remember a lot more than he could. They never wandered away with a task unfinished, or forgot- or forgot his Eye!
Jon gasped in excitement and grabbed at Mr. Magnus’s arms for him to give him the little drawing back.
Elias felt the drawing fall from nerveless fingers as Jonathan excitedly clutched at it and began babbling to it.
Jonathan immediately ran back into his room and slammed the door, excitedly showing the Eye all the changes he had made.
Elias sat in his office and steepled his fingers, deep in thought.
Peter was due to arrive soon, and Jonathan was finally washed and dressed and ready to receive visitors. He had prepped Jonathan as best he could, and he hoped it would be sufficient to avoid any unpleasantries before he managed to get Peter locked behind the sigils deeper in the rooms.
The office had been barricaded, but Peter had still been able to slip sideways into the Lonely. He hadn’t walked out of the office, so Elias assumed his sigils did something at least.
Fortunately those were not the only ones he had. Deeper within the honeycombed rooms beyond were sigils that should keep Peter powerless as a living larder.
Jonathan hadn’t grown since he had Compelled Dr. Girard. Who was no longer returning any calls at all.
Elias had gotten so nervous about that, he had let Jonathan out to go to school again simply to have enough space between them in case Jonathan got hungrier than old dry statements could satisfy. The Cult of the Lightless Flame had made him so nervous that he had taken to doing his work from a coffee shop right across the street, horribly exposed, but closer to hand. They had eventually spotted him, so the situation was quickly becoming untenable. Summer holiday was around the corner, and couldn’t come fast enough.
But those were all side considerations. What was distracting him, absorbing his every thought, was why had Jonathan abandoned that little Eye only to pick it up so gleefully later?
He was chattering away to it as though nothing had changed, as though there hadn’t even been a blip of time in between their last “conversation”.
Elias carefully marked down “time blind + blind to anything out of sight = ?” and circled the words “blind” with force. Never a good word to have in conjunction to the acolytes of the Eye. Was this the Spider’s doing?
Was this the Dark’s?
Emma had been a petty Avatar, small and weak. And there was Sarah, down in the archives, marked by the Dark. Where was the line between “marked” and “Avatar”? Stacy had tried to find it. He had died in the pursuit of that knowledge, fruitlessly scrabbling at definitions and lines.
Jonathan had carried that little Eye with him everywhere until he met Sarah.
Elias couldn’t afford to take any chances.
How was he going to get her out of the archives without Gertrude suspecting him? How best to arrange a small…workplace accident.
Peter wasn’t sure what he had expected when he opened Elias’s office door, ladened down with two coffees and a small hot chocolate. He had thought about deliberately bringing nothing for Jonathan, because nothing brought a stab of loneliness to a child like being left out, but he figured it would be best to avoid antagonizing Elias when it came to the child. For now. Until Elias led him to those other statement givers.
Since he had not expected anything, he wasn’t particularly surprised to see Elias sitting with that particular look that meant someone was going to meet a very subtle fate. Cheerfully disregarding Elias’s thought process he slapped the drinks down onto the desk.
“I’m not interrupting, am I?”
Elias startled, and glared at him before his gaze softened into exasperation. He opened his mouth to say something-
Eyes glowed from behind Elias, and the sounds of running trainers slapping the floor and-
Elias supposed it wasn’t surprising. This was the first Avatar Jonathan had seen in a while, and he was bound to be hungry. He sat and did not interfere as Jonathan emerged from what little shadows there were in the office. He had a brief moment of surprise as Jonathan bodily pounced on Peter instead of repeating whatever he had done with Emma, and then when Peter lifted Jonathan up and flung him into the Lonely Elias began to scream-
But before he could even finish his outraged shriek, Jonathan was back. Watching his reappearance felt as though his eyes were spasming, as though his brain was trying to tell his eyes they hadn’t truly seen what they had just Seen.
Jonathan yelled wildly and charged back at Peter, who grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt and threw him down towards the floor where he sank arms outstretched into a rising mist.
Elias stood up from his desk. “PETER, BRING HIM BACK.”
“WHAT THE HELL ELIAS.” yelled Peter. “What kind of feral-“
“Bring him back Peter-“
Peter paid him no mind and continued yelling, enraged and confused and determined to give Elias an earful.
Elias was beginning to breathe differently. Jonathan had reappeared almost instantaneously the first time but now how long had it been how long had it been why was time feeling this way-
“Breathe Elias, breathe dammit!” Elias slapped Peter’s hand off of his back.
“Bring that child back! Peter! Peter he’s a child he didn’t mean-”
“The hell! He came at me like a rabid dog Elias! He can stay there and cool off and you can take your introduction and shove-“
“Peter. Peter!” interrupted Elias urgently, and to his horror Peter heard it too. Elias’s eyes were wide and fixed beyond his shoulder and as Peter turned to look he saw what he had been hearing. A bookshelf rocking as though something was climbing-
Jonathan leapt down, teeth bared like a panther, screaming.
Peter shrieked and flung out a hand just in time.
As Jonathan was flung back into a patch of mist he screamed out in fury “YOU TOOK MY MAH-“
In the aftermath Elias and Peter stood stock still in shock, surrounded by the swirling mist and upturned papers gently fluttering down.
Jon wandered around the mists with a scowl. He would show him. He would hurt him.
He would hurt him for taking- for- he would-
Jon slapped at his head and growled. The Forsaken made you forget. He hated forgetting. He hated this kind of forgetting even more, feeling Knowledge drain away from him. How DARE it. But Jon wasn’t here because the mists wanted him.
Jon had Seen footprints.
Jon had Seen many footprints. And he Knew these were fresh footprints. The mists had just eaten.
And Jon was going to make that man suffer.
Elias couldn’t believe it. What had happened. How had it gone so wrong, so quickly?
He had assumed Jonathan had attacked Emma so rapidly because she had been of the Web, and Jonathan had been terrified by that Lietner. Jonathan had been quite polite as he had feasted upon that Buried Mr. John. And he had been agitated but controlled when he interrogated Dr. Girard.
What had caused this? What had Jonathan been saying, before he had been swallowed up by the Lonely?
As the silence stretched on Elias felt something crack open within him in despair. He had brought Jonathan’s destruction. In his arrogance he had invited it over for coffee.
Jon Saw her first. She was so lost. She was so lonely. She had been just trying to find people- any one, any one at all, please, please she couldn’t be alone again-
Jon took her hand.
And as she looked down at him in surprise, tears and snot running down her face, he scowled with the determination of a bloodhound at another set of footprints she hadn’t noticed. A man’s footprints, when had they been there? They hadn’t been there before she was sure of it she had been all alone but his overlapped hers and that just wasn’t possible-
Peter made a noise Elias had never heard and clutched at his stomach. Elias almost didn’t bother to Look, but as he turned slightly Peter bowed over in half and made gagging noises.
Suddenly the mists cleared with the force of an implosion.
Hand in hand Jonathan stood with two people Elias recognized with a start. The doomed statement givers stood trembling, blinking away tears and clutching one another. Jonathan Looked down at Peter gagging on the floor and scornfully stepped away to lead the couple outside.