LM stopped outside Missy’s hospital room. He raised his fist to knock on the door.
But it wasn’t his fist. It was Capernaum’s.
He raised his other hand, transforming it back into his own. He uncurled his fist and compared the two very different hands. One, slim with slender fingers. The other, broad with decidedly masculine fingers.
LM wrapped his arms around himself.
So solid. So strong feeling. Strong body. Strong heart. Capernaum should have lived forever.
He released himself.
But humans are humans. Stupidly, insultingly weak. So easily broken and why?
He knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Jeff called out.
LM glanced around the hall. No one was about. He quickly transformed into his true form and entered the room before anyone else could see him. He closed the door and took in the scene.
Raven was still knocked out. He’d slumped down in his seat and had leaned his head back. His arms lay limp at his sides. His feet were set flat on the floor.
Jeff sat in the seat next to Raven. He frowned as he read ‘Little Women’.
LM wondered which part he was on and why he was frowning with such disapproval at it.
Maybe he’s on the part where she refuses Laurie. If so, I can’t blame him for making that face.
He cautiously approached the former vampire hunter. “I’m back.”
“Uhm.” Jeff turned the page.
LM’s feathers bristled. “Well, I am. I’m back. I’m here. I don’t know what else you want from me.”
“Huhn?” Jeff looked up at him. “Oh, you’re back.”
“Yes. What do you want me to do? Please give me something to do. I can’t be idle. I need to do something. Anything. I’ll sweep the floors. I’ll scrub your car. Just don’t let me waste another day on nothing.”
Jeff closed the book and set it alongside his leg. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing! I feel restless and I have nothing to do and nowhere to go.”
“Didn’t you ever learn to relax while you were at that Institute?”
“Of course I relaxed. After a full day’s work.”
Jeff smiled. “Of course. Honestly, I don’t have anything for you to do. I’m just waiting for Missy to come back. The nurse took her for another walkabout. They should be back soon.”
LM turned away from him and walked over to Missy’s bed.
She survived the fire because she’s an XQ…Because they turned her into an XQ. But Capernaum didn’t have that advantage. He died while she survived. If he hadn’t died, where would he be now? Would he be in a bed like this one? Would he be okay the way she is? Or would he be struggling to survive?
I would be at his side.
“What are you going to do when she returns?” LM asked.
Jeff sighed. “I’m gonna have a conversation with her about something I’ve been thinking about doing.”
LM waited in vain for Capernaum’s reassuring touch. “So? What? Where am I supposed to go while you have this whole conversation with her?” The words burned his throat.
“You can stay in here. It’s nothing earth-shatteringly secret.”
He tried to swallow the burn away, but it remained.
“So.” Jeff chuckled. “It looks like you aren’t interested in what I’m going to discuss with her.”
LM shrugged. “It really isn’t any of my business. If you want to tell me more, I won’t stop you.”
“But you won’t ask.”
“Interesting. Are you curious?”
LM shrugged. “If I were, would you tell me?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
He frowned at the empty bed. “I feel like we’re going through loose loops and empty tunnels with this conversation. I don’t know what you’re hoping to accomplish. Do you really want me to be curious about matters that don’t concern me?”
“It wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
LM spun around and gaped in outrage. “What is wrong with you? I mean it. What is literally wrong with you? Asking me to pry into your personal affairs for no good reason.” He jabbed a furious point at Jeff. “You don’t make sense.”
LM’s feathers bristled.
Foolish, nonsensical human!
LM reclaimed ‘Little Women’ and retreated to the chair near the window. If Capernaum were still there, he would have offered LM a comforting word or a gentle touch.
But he wasn’t there anymore. His absence was like white noise in LM’s ears.
LM hugged the book to his chest.
“Maybe I don’t make sense.” Jeff said. “I’ve been so down and unhappy. But…she’s alive. My little girl is alive and that is the most amazing thing. Oh, I’m sure the unhappiness will hit me again.” He shrugged. “It does that. But I’m going to try to hold on to that happiness, that knowledge that she is alive. I can see her. I can talk to her. I can…just be with her.”
LM frowned. “Did I miss out on some big epiphany?”
“Maybe. I talked to Missy and she got me thinking. She said that it’s easy to focus on all of the sad things. Both she and I have known plenty of sad things. But sometimes you just need to just change the subject.”
“Just change the subject.” LM scoffed. “That isn’t easy for everyone, you know.”
Jeff gave him a sympathetic look. “I know.”
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in!” Jeff called out.
The noise level in the room jumped from 0 to 10,000 as the nurse led Missy back into the room. Missy was in her three-thousand-words-in-one-breath talking zone. LM didn’t even know what she was talking about. It was just a whole mess of words about….something.
Jeff pretty much leapt out of his seat to help get Missy back into her bed.
He’s terribly nonsensical as humans go. Nonsensical and needlessly violent. But maybe….Maybe he isn’t that bad. Maybe he’s just like me — hurt and lonely for what he can’t reclaim, for everything he’s lost.
LM brought his feet up on the chair and balanced his book on his knees.
Maybe I could learn to get along with him. It wouldn’t be easy. We might not get along all that well. Is it worth the needless drama? Capernaum, my dear friend, is he worth it?