Thursday, 23 April 2015

S is for... Simon



Blogging From A to Z is a blog challenge where participants post a new item every day (except Sundays), where every item relates to the appropriate letter of the alphabet.  You can find out more over at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com



Story: Radial/Unravel
Rating: PG
Word Count: 911

It was only by chance I went past the coffee shop.  My boss insists we have this encyclopaedic knowledge of the city, better than any taxi driver’s—not least because we don’t take the scenic routes and, anyway, I can’t exactly get away with a sat-nav on my bike—but sometimes it fails even the best of us.





It was only by chance I went past the coffee shop.  My boss insists we have this encyclopaedic knowledge of the city, better than any taxi driver’s—not least because we don’t take the scenic routes and, anyway, I can’t exactly get away with a sat-nav on my bike—but sometimes it fails even the best of us.  And believe me, I’m not the best.  One tiny box, one hard-to-find flat above a city center shop, and there we have it: I accidentally found my landlord having coffee with the enemy.

It’s not like I was spying on him, but we aren’t exactly swimming with dokkalfa up here.  They tend to draw the eye and the blond ones tend to stick out more anyway.  Add to that the fact I’ve never see anyone, human or ljusalfa, with hair as long as Jonathan’s and it couldn’t be any more obvious if they’d tried.

Of course, if they’d tried then they’d have told me and I wouldn’t have been sitting there astride my bike, gaping like an idiot through a shop window.

The house is empty when I return.  No surprise: Jonathan’s probably still out.  I’ve heard the rumours about that guy, the way people whisper it in the corridor while they stare at me like I can somehow answer for him...  Rumours enough that make me wonder about his and Jonathan’s relationship.  Like I didn’t already have enough to wonder about when it came to Jonathan.  I never did get to the bottom of how he knows where to source and set explosives...

I’m half asleep at the kitchen table when the click of the front door jolts me awake again.  No idea what time it is.  It’s bad enough it’s been busy lately and I get back knackered, having to wait up for a conversation I am not looking forward to is just the icing on the cake, and judging from Jonathan’s carefully closed smile as he peers into the kitchen, he’s feeling much the same way.  “Hey Simon, what’re you doing up?”

My guts feel like they want to make a bid for freedom out my mouth, but I hold up my hand and let it shift..  Jonathan doesn’t recoil, but then, he never has.  It’s always been me who can’t stand the unwilling monstrosity of my own body.  “I was in town earlier.  Did you have a nice coffee?”

He doesn’t even bat an eyelid.  “It was nice, yes.  When we’ve got some time I should take you there.  You’d like it.”

“Will the dokkalfa be there too?  You do realise he’s on Alex’s side, right?”  And let’s face it, if anyone’s willingly working with that sadistic bastard they have to be just as bad, right?

Jonathan takes his time pulling out the kitchen chair and settling himself into it, folding his hands carefully on the table, before he stares at me and speaks slowly.  “And do you realise he’s just the same as you?”

I find myself shaking my head before I even realise it, and shift my hand back into its regular form.

Jonathan ignores it.  “He told me everything.  He was passed along to them just like you were, through a legal guardian just like you.”  He pauses long enough to let me swallow and try to forget that it’s my own stepfather who was so determined to get rid of me that he sold me into government experimentation.  It’s a sore point, to put it mildly, and Jonathan knows it; at least it means I know he’s being serious.  “Only he didn’t have anyone who’d come and rescue him.  All he had was a simple choice: join them or be terminated.  Which one would you have picked, Simon?”

It’d be so easy to say I’d choose the latter, that after everything Alex and that fucking organisation put me through I’d pick death every time.  But I’d be lying.  I know it.  Jonathan knows it.  If it was that simple I wouldn’t be sitting here now...

Jonathan’s sympathetic gaze is just making me feel even worse.  “How do you know him?”  I ask at length.  “If you want to bring him back here it’s—if you’ll just give me some warning first—”

He raises an eyebrow and for the first time his smile is genuinely amused.  “I picked him up as a hitchhiker when he was a teenager, and I’m not quite sure where you’re going with the rest of that sentence.”

I can feel myself blushing furiously and, hell, it must be even worse than it feels because Jonathan’s smile becomes a full-blown grin.  “I mean...”

“Yes, I know what you mean.”  His laugh very almost obscures the ear-splitting scrape of chair legs over tiles and when he leans over to ruffle my hair, he almost knocks me over.  “Get some sleep, Simon.  You’re working too hard.  And, you know,” he adds from over his shoulder in the kitchen doorway, “if you talked to Milos you might just like him.”

“Night,” I mumble, dropping my head to the table.  Talk to Milos, like our respective organisations don’t expect us to loathe one another?  Pull the other one, Jonathan.

I can feel his presence linger for a moment in the doorway.  “Sleep well, Simon.”

I only lift my head again when I’m sure he’s gone.   Jonathan can afford to be impartial.  I just wish it was that easy for me too.

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