Capernaum stood off to the side and watched the whole scene between LM and Jeff unfold. He wanted to interfere so many times. When LM turned and walked away from Jeff, he wanted to reach out and stop him. He wanted to tell him to stay and hear him out.
But Jeff beat him to that particular punch.
Capernaum smiled as the tides turned. He could see Jeff soften to the half-fey.
But it’s only natural. How could he not soften to him? How could he not show him mercy and forgiveness? I’m sure he sees what I saw that first day. The hurt in his eyes. The expectation of cruelty. The broken spirit.
LM, my dear friend.
Jeff offered LM his hand.
Take this chance, LM. You belong with him and his friends. I know. I know you do.
LM took his hand and Jeff’s expression softened. “I do believe you.”
Pride rippled through Capernaum’s phantom frame. For a moment, he felt like a parent witnessing his child making his first real friend.
You’ll be fine, LM. I could leave now, but you’re not ready. Not yet. You still need me. I will stay until you don’t need me anymore. I can only hope that you’ll be willing to let me go when the time comes.
LM followed Jeff back into the hospital room.
Capernaum hesitated before following them.
I’m here, LM.
“I see you didn’t kill him.” Darius said. “Is everything okay?”
Jeff looked at LM. “Yeah. We’ve come to an understanding.”
Darius shrugged. “I’m not sure if that’s the same thing as okay, but okay. I’ll go with it.”
Arabella tugged her husband’s sleeve.
“Will you be okay if we leave you?”
Jeff nodded. “I’ll be fine.” He smiled. “We’ll be fine.”
“Good. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow.”
Hildreth followed Master Shinowa to the front door. “You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“I have many idea. No forgetting, Mayhew. I been married too.”
They stopped at the door.
Master Shinowa clapped his hands on Hildreth’s shoulders. “I’m seeing forward to tomorrow too.”
“Thank you, Master. Is Jim-Marie coming with you?”
“Yes. Parker have missed you much, have much to say to you.”
“Ooo! I get to catch up on all of the dojo gossip. Yes!”
Shinowa released his shoulders with a slight shove. “Not sure you’re meaning. No gossip to be had.”
“Oh, Master. There’s always some sort of gossip to be told. Even if it’s just the boring, standard ‘I punched three holes in the dojo’s walls’.”
The master laughed at that. “Only you punch holes. No one else.”
“Now, I find that hard to believe. I can’t be the only one to take my training frustrations on the walls.”
Shinowa nodded. “Just you.” He grinned mischievously. “Walls bless their ancestors when you become full hunter.”
Hildreth laughed. “I’m sure they did.”
Shinowa gave his former student an admiring look. “It gives me much happiness to see you happy. No anger. No revenge. Just peace and happiness.”
“It’s been a very hard earned peace and happiness. Elsie and I went down a lot of rough roads to reach this point.”
“I know. Hildreth Mayhew.” He took Hildreth’s hands into his own. “I wish you and Vansing so much more peace and happiness. More than you can own.”
Hildreth bowed his head. “Thank you, Master.” He raised his head. “And thank you again for agreeing to be my best man. You don’t know how much I appreciate it.”
“I do know.” he said gently. “Wedding is at ten o’clock?”
“Right on the nose.”
“I will be come there. I promise.”
“Thank you, Master.”