Carthage lost himself in memories as LM finished his sandwich.
Memories of working at The Institute.
Memories of co-workers and friends.
Memories of strange birthday parties and assorted celebrations.
Memories of successful experiments.
Memories of Capernaum and Antioch and himself. The three of them working together and solving problems with the whole elemental creation process.
“Do they know who burned it down?”
LM licked a trail of mayo off the side of his hand. “mm. Not to my knowledge. But I’ve been busy with Antioch. I really haven’t had a chance to find out any information.”
“Too bad. I assumed it was one of the XQs. Maybe my XQ. I wish I knew for certain.”
LM shrugged. He sucked something off the tip of his thumb.
Carthage looked away from him. “Turn back into your true form.”
“I don’t like seeing you use Capernaum’s body like that.”
LM laid his hands on the table. “Technically speaking, it’s my body.”
Carthage bristled. “Just turn back.”
“I would, but I don’t like the negative attention.” He sighed. “I’ll change back as soon as we return to Antioch’s side. Is that okay with you?”
“What does it matter? I can’t force you to change.”
“I’m sorry. I tried to save him. But—”
“I don’t want to discuss it.” He flagged down their waiter. “Please bring the bill. We’re done here.”
“Very good, sir. I’ll be right back.”
“I need to run these papers back to Sammy.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be right back.” Barbara patted her on the head. “Just stay here. Okay?”
Sarah nodded. She crawled under the desk as Barbara headed towards the double glass doors.
Her thoughts turned back to the man who’d tried to lure her back to The Institute. Or wherever he had in mind.
Who was he?
She narrowed her eyes and tried to remember him.
Ordinary brown hair.
Didn’t seem to be as old as Antioch. At least he didn’t have any obvious gray hair on his head.
Eyes the color of dirt. Not clay. Not mud. Just dirt.
So-so mouth. But she had no real opinion about people’s mouths. So, maybe he had a great looking mouth and she just wasn’t aware of it.
All around, nothing too extraordinary.
But there was something in the lines of his face that seemed familiar to her. Had she ever seen him in The Institute?
She closed her eyes and tried to remember.
Breathtaking, back bending pain.
She thrashed and kicked, trying to escape.
“Stop! Stop! Stop! Can’t you see you’re hurting her?” He snatched the needle from the nurse.
Sarah stopped and looked up at him. Gratitude flooded her soul.
Until he tightened the belts around her wrists, waist, and ankles.
“There. Now, try it from this angle.” He touched the blunted end of the thick needle against the middle of her thigh.
She gave him a beseeching look.
He might as well have been blind.
He stabbed straight through to her femur.
And she couldn’t scream.
He wasn’t any different from the others there.
He was just like them.
She pointed to herself and shook her head.
She pointed in the general direction of the front door, shook her head, and drew a furious, flaming X.
The X self-extinguished, but her resolve did not.
She would never go back to him.
Whoever he was.