Part 2590 – And I Say, “Hey! What’s Going On?”

LM didn’t bother transforming his appearance. He was just too irritated to care about what the people around him thought or saw.

Honestly, he was too irritated to even think.

A man stopped in the middle of the hallway. He went down into a crouch and talked very earnestly to his young son.

The sight of that tender moment made LM’s feathers bristle out even more.

And it made him hurt inside.

“Hey!” Jeff called out. “LM! Hold on! Wait!”

LM huffed out a sigh and stopped walking. He was in no mood for a conversation, but he also did not feel like being full-body tackled by a former hunter. Conversation was a whole lot more preferable to that. He folded his arms across his chest and waited for Jeff to catch up.

The child hugged the man and cried against him.

Capernaum hugged him. “It’s okay. You’re safe, Ellum. No one will ever hurt you as long as I live.”

LM continued to cry against him, yet he felt so safe.

He felt comforted.

The man held the boy so close. His hands moved in comforting patterns on the boy’s back.

LM looked away from them and impatiently shifted his weight. He listened to the approaching thump of Jeff’s footsteps, but his mind returned to Capernaum.

Capernaum looked at LM with dulled, sightless eyes.

“LM. I..no regrets…rescu…”

“Don’t talk. Put your arm around—”

“LM. not me. Antioch. I…happy…saved you.”

The footsteps stopped behind him. “What’s going on?” Jeff asked.

“Nothing.”

“Nothing? You left the room in such a huff. I thought Tessa had insulted your father or something.”

“She basically did.” LM’s feathers bristled even more. “How could she forget about Capernaum? Capernaum was the very best person at The Institute. He was NOT someone anyone could just forget.”

“I’m sorry. I know what it’s like to lose someone…so unforgettable.”

LM spun around. “No, you don’t! You couldn’t possibly know! No one can. It’s my pain, my grief, my loss. No one else’s.” Despite his anger, his feathers flattened and his voice died down as he added, “Capernaum was my friend.”

Jeff’s expression turned sympathetic.

LM wanted to punch the sympathy out of his expression. “Forget it. I’m leaving.”

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know! I just need to walk.”

Jeff waited a moment before saying, “You’re right, LM.”

“About?”

“No one’s grief and loss is the same. It can’t and shouldn’t be compared.”

LM regarded him with suspicion. “But?”

“No buts. This is the simple truth.”

“Well, I’m not going back in there. Just in case that was going to be your next line. I need to be alone.”

Jeff nodded, which almost annoyed LM more than the sympathetic look had. “Well, then. Bye.”

“Bye? What? Are you going to just walk away? Just like that? After running out here, you’re going to just drop the conversation and leave?”

“You said you wanted to be alone. I’m honoring your wishes. Is there a problem with that?”

I’m being nonsensical. Saying I want to be alone and then getting offended when he actually tries to leave me alone. What do I even want? “No. I just assumed you had more to say than that.”

A Japanese family walked past. The youngest child carried a small bamboo plant with utmost care. Red and white ribbons were tied to the stalks.

“Okay.” Jeff said. “Since you don’t want this conversation to end—-”

“I didn’t say that.”

“—the nurse had no reaction to Tessa’s flames. Not even a startle.”

“So?

“So, that is not a normal reaction to seeing someone spontaneously catch on fire. It made me wonder if that nurse has seen it before.”

LM frowned. “Why are you even questioning this? She was your daughter’s nurse yesterday.”

Jeff shook his head.

“What? What are you thinking?”

“Did you recognize that nurse from The Institute?”

“Even if I had, does it matter? In case you’ve forgotten, there’s no Institute left. What will she do? Take your daughter to the burned-out ruins and sit among the rubble? Worst-case scenario: They both come down with asbestos poisoning and/or tetanus.”

Jeff frowned. “That is not the worst-case scenario and you know it.”

LM looked back at the man comforting his son. “I know it. She could sell Tessa to the highest bidder. Or she could sell Tessa to Mark Caten.”

The man picked up the boy and carried him away.

I shouldn’t have sent Capernaum away. It was too soon. I still miss him.

I still need him.

“I didn’t recognize her. And I would have. Or she would have recognized me.” LM turned his attention back to Jeff. “So, you’re worrying about nothing.”

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