Gloomy Evening - Was It Worth It? Part II

19. května 2009 v 2:10 | Cirrat |  Skřeky cizojazyčné
Druhý díl povídky, zatím v aj. V češtině dodám zítra či pozítří :)



I woke up at the hospital, after the thorough attention given to me by those street thugs. I pretended not to remember anything from that evening; it was safer and easier. Although I was pissed at Patrick, and his men were not exactly tender, I did not want to blow the cover they had provided. After all, were the organisation discovered, the revolutionary forces would execute me as well for simply knowing about them and not turning them in. In addition, they would probably torture Patrick, my only friend left, as annoying as he could be. I did not want to think about what they would do to Thalia.

She came to visit me at the hospital and brought me a letter from Patrick. It contained only the date and place of my application interview, in addition to the name of the sleeping agent. I committed the name to my memory and burned the paper after she left. As a member of the party and somebody attacked by the rebelling hooligans, I was allowed to smoke in the ward. As always, my bad habit came in handy. Seriously, why had I ever considered quitting?

I leaned back on my pillows and observed the bluish-grey spirals of smoke. It was strange; I did not feel as upset as I thought I would, as I probably should. As a respectable citizen should after being beaten by some rogues, their house and store destroyed, leaving nothing. Of course, the insurance was decent and would make it possible for me to rebuild my shop, should I wish to. I had to admit to myself that I was sorely tempted to let them all sort out their problems without me. I had enough. I chuckled silently and winced at the pain in my ribs. I recalled the evening I first met Patrick and briefly wondered why I felt so strongly about something that was no concern of mine. I had helped the organisation since and I thought I did my best. Obviously, doing my best meant being massacred within an inch of my life by people that worked for a friend of mine. Life can be so cynical. I put out my cigarette and decided to sleep for a while. It was not as if the hospital was much fun anyhow.

***

I was standing in the middle of my new office, looking around. The uniform was slightly chaffing, the colors were muted shades of green and grey. I allowed myself the brief luxury of contemplating how a brainwashed culture produces only washed-out feelings and colors. Was I a philosopher, all of a sudden? I shook my head and sighed. No philosophy in the whole world was going to save me from doing what I had promised to do.

The interview went smoothly. As Patrick pointed out, I knew several languages and could handle the administrative well. I was even given a suite in the hotel nearby, after explaining what happened to me. The interviewer, an older man with recessing hairline, big glasses, and bookkeeper's waistcoat worn over the uniform, had simply nodded and arranged for the lodgings. I came the next morning, was issued my uniform, changed, and went into the office assigned to me. I was hired as a secretary for some officer.

It was a simple room, neither too small nor too big, a little bit dark, with only a small window, one table and a chair, and lots of shelves filled with different binders. One door led to the corridor, the other one, more posh looking, would probably lead to my officer's room. Everything looked kind of brownish-grey, gloomy and lifeless, but perhaps that was just my mood. I caught my reflection in the window and noticed that the uniform masked me pretty well against the folders. Well, at least if somebody came in, I could save myself by pretending I was colleting last year's bills; nice. Perhaps I could just stay here and do the boring job I signed up for; just forget about everybody and everything, and pretend that nothing happened…That the drunken man clutching a pistol in his pocket never actually existed.

However, I knew too much. Working with Patrick for more than a year meant that despite meeting with him and his cousin only, I knew much more about the organisation than was exactly healthy. If I left, Patrick would have to deal with me, probably by sending somebody to get rid of me. I knew how he detested such things - but I also knew that he had actually issued such orders more than once during the time I knew him.

Another issue with knowing too much was that it meant knowing what the 'other side' did to people. More than one refugee had slept at my house and I had provided more than one manual on treating basic illnesses, healing herbs, survival guides, and even travelling guides, not counting the numerous dictionaries. When Thalia came and asked for several books on how to deal with posttraumatic stress, I stopped counting. I could not turn my back on the situation because I could not come up with an excuse good enough to justify dismissing it. I wondered, vaguely, if all heroes rose just because they could not appease their consciences and were too poor in finding excuses…not that I considered myself a hero.

I checked my desk and found some blank papers, a typewriter, pens, and pencils. Near the telephone was a list of all the other offices, listing their occupant's name, occupation, office location, and phone lines. I checked for the name of the sleeping agent and found that she was another secretary. I wondered how I was supposed to contact her. After a while of thinking up situations, I gave up and decided to wait for today and see if she would contact me. It was improbable - as a sleeping agent, she would have no contact with the organisation whatsoever and probably would not know that I was there. On the other hand, she could have recognised Alpha's name (I still did not know him) and expected somebody to show up.

The door opened, interrupting my musings. A tall man in his mid-thirties came in, obviously the officer I was supposed to be assisting. He had short black hair, smoothed back with the use of some gel or brilliantine, tanned skin, and searing black eyes. His short nose was slightly crooked and shifted to one side, as if broken and never allowed to heal properly. His stance was one of the predatory types you read about in books, and words like 'panther' and 'cheetah' came to my mind. He was lean, his ears were small and round, just like a big feline's, accenting the suitability of the description. He closed the door and took few steps into the office. "You are my new secretary, I presume."

I stood up and rounded the table. "Yes, sir; my name is Theodor Reimund and I was just hired."
He shook my hand. "Very well, mister Reimund; I'm captain Tivadar. Ernst Tivadar. Did anybody explain your duties to you yet?"

"No, I'm sorry. I was just told to come to this office and be at your disposal."

He scowled. "That's typical. Well, it's actually simple enough. You will come every morning and prepare for the day before I appear. I usually start my day at nine, but we will start earlier on occasion. We'll know beforehand, so all you have to do is wake up earlier. You will handle my paperwork, arrange my meetings, and you will not let any unnecessary bureaucracy to reach me. Sometimes you will follow me to meetings to translate for me. The lunch break is from twelve to one, but it is preferred for you to order a take out and eat it in here, in order to be at hand should something urgent happen. Not that it often does, but better safe than sorry, hmm?" He gave a little smile. "The work day ends at five. Sometimes it will be necessary for you to stay longer. I hope you don't mind, because I don't care if you do. The admin of the day will be handled and handed out before you leave, no matter how extensive; understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. I'll call my bodyguard - he's normally stationed outside my door," he motioned the chair near the door to his office; "He knows the routine and will help you handle things in the beginning. Any questions...?"

I nodded. "If I may, sir - what happened to your previous secretary?"

His smile turned cold and he looked even more predatory than before. "I caught him contacting the enemy. He's imprisoned and awaiting his trial and execution right now. I had several replacements since then, but nobody was able to keep up with my requirements. I really do hope you will prove useful, mister Reimund. It's really tiresome to have to explain all this again and again."

I kept my calm mask and only raised an eyebrow. "Interesting; also, what about cleaning?" I wanted to kick Patrick hard. Thanks to him, I got right under the nose of the man who caught our Alpha.

The captain dismissed my question with a wave of his hand. "You don't have to concern yourself with it. The cleaning staff is supposed to take care of that - so be sure not to leave any papers around where somebody could read them. In addition, you are not to enter my office when I am not present. I lock it always when I leave, but should I forget, I rely on you not to enter. Do you understand this, mister Reimund?"

I only nodded; Of course, I did.

The door behind the captain opened again and a man slipped in. His uniform looked newer than mine did, and his shoes were polished, but his blouse looked a little crumpled. His hair was slightly longer than I would expect from somebody in a military service, and his complexion was pale but not sallow, with some freckles sprinkled across his nose. He panted slightly as though he was just running, and his face was covered with a slight sheen of sweat.

The dark man turned around and it was his turn to raise an eyebrow. "Rudi, you are late…And you certainly don't look very respectable. What happened?"

The soldier shrugged a bit. "The things you told me to handle took longer than usual. There is some confusion in the lower offices about Bartal."

The officer frowned a bit. "Well, trust him to make trouble even when imprisoned. Rudi, this is Theodore Reimund, my new secretary. I trust you to walk him through the routine." He turned to me, "Well, mister Reimund, I leave you in the good hands of our Rudi Roderick. He knows all you will need to know."

I nodded again. Really, I felt like one of those little puppets that nodded their head when touched. When Tivadar disappeared behind his doors, I turned to the soldier. "Well, for starters, are we allowed to smoke in the office?"

***

After several weeks, I could follow my established routine smoothly- come to the office at half past eight in the morning, prepare all the paperwork according to the meetings scheduled for the day, and fill out the necessary forms that seemed to multiply and to pop out of nowhere. Rudi actually started to come in earlier too. I learned that he was guarding the captain only during his workday - at the office and during meetings. When the captain was off duty, another man was assigned to him, one James Watse. I always exchanged the newest gossip with Rudi, while waiting for Tivadar. When he came in, I was doomed to endless phone calls, papers, papers, and yet more papers. Moreover, I still had not found an excuse to approach that mysterious woman I was supposed to cooperate with. At least I had puzzled out some bits and pieces regarding Alpha…Or Irving Bartal, as he was known to the military.

Sometimes, when the captain ate out in the city with Watse, Rudi and I had our lunch in the cafeteria, like today. We sat above our trays, chatting and laughing. Really, I was growing quite fond of the guy. I knew he could be ruthless; after all, he was a bodyguard in addition to being military, but he had a slightly warped sense of humour, which suited my newly found cynicism just right, he could tell funny stories, and he had the same viewpoints as I did on many things. Really, I could easily imagine us being friends, had he not been an enemy. I sighed.

Rudi looked up from his meal, "Anything the matter, Theo?"

I shook my head, "No; Just thinking."

He grinned, "Don't tell me that it hurts you of all people."

I threw my fork at him, causing him to dodge it and laugh. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a good chance to change the subject. There was a nice looking woman, with long blonde hair tied up in a ponytail, and the skirt of the uniform just reaching her knees, showing off her nicely modelled legs and ankles; her blouse was just a bit too tight. She was currently putting some food on her tray, frowning slightly, as if lost in thought.

I pointed to her subtly with my retrieved fork. "Who's she?"

My companion snorted. "So, you got caught too? That's our Holy Mary - she never goes out with any co-workers and there's a rumour she even turned down an offer from some general. She's so good at her job that nobody even thought of firing her for revenge though."

I looked at the woman again. "What's her name?"

Rudi grinned at me. "You think you can get her?"

"I just want to know her name;" I threatened him with my fork again.

He threw up his hands. "I give up, I give up. Don't smite me, you mighty paper pusher. The name's Minke. Minke Nilein. Still, you wanna try your luck? Fifty bucks say you can't do it."

Ah, bets…One of Rudi's weaknesses. The only one I was able to discover so far. I could not believe my luck - Minke was the woman I needed to contact and now my foolish companion served me the perfect opportunity on a silver tray. I grinned back. "Deal," I threw down my napkin, stood up and approached the now eating lady.

Few minutes later, I was walking down the corridor, caressing my stinging cheek. Minke upheld her reputation and, right after I told her that Patrick sent me, slapped me hard. I thought Rudi was going to harm himself by laughing so much. Several snorts and giggles were heard around the cafeteria as well while Minke left and I went to my office. Well, at least nobody heard her whisper that I was supposed to meet her in her office that night…

***

After the day was over and both the captain and the fair-haired bodyguard left, I looked up the position of Minke's office and went to meet with her. I carried a randomly picked folder under my arm, keeping up the rule that if you look busy enough, nobody tries to question you. I knocked at her door and entered.

She was sitting at her desk, and had let her hair down and unbuttoned the top button of her blouse, not that she needed that to raise her attractiveness. She saw my raised eyebrows and sighed. "Do you really think that the 'working late' excuse would work if somebody walked in on us?"

I could see her point.

"I assume that you are here about the Alpha." She continued, all business-like, which was an interesting contrast to her appearance.

"Yes. I think he's that 'Bartal' that was removed from Tivadar's office; Right?" You see, I really was not loafing around during those weeks. It helped that Rudi liked to gossip a lot.

The blonde-haired woman in front of me confirmed my idea. "He's being held in the lowest floor of this building. I think that they will try to confront him with Tivadar soon."

I was confused a little bit. "Why should they confront him with Tivadar?"

Minke sighed. "First of all, it was Tivadar who caught him. Secondly, it was information from the captain that the Alpha was giving away. Last, but not least, they were lovers. I know from my senior that Tivadar was long under suspicion himself, but he could prove himself trustworthy for the regime."

I felt dumbfounded. This meant Tivadar was the one who was ordering all those operations against the rebels. I suddenly felt that I was in the snake pit and was just…working there. Before I could wake myself up from the sudden outburst of heroism, I asked, "Do you want me to continue to supply the information Alpha was bringing out?"

Fortunately for me, Minke was more realistic. "No, you don't have the training and you don't have the trust of your captain. The number one goal is to get him out of here." She waited until I nodded and continued, "And now, for the cover…"

***

When returning the unnecessary, randomly chosen, binder into my office, I ran into Rudi by the doors.

"Thank God you're here." His breathing was heavy; he had been running again…and for some time too, because the blonde man was in excellent physical shape, unlike me. His torso was muscled, but not bulky, and the way he panted made me notice his shoulders again.

That was strange - I was coming back from a meeting with a blonde goddess (and what a meeting it was) that was on my side, yet there I was, noticing an enemy…Again. His chuckle made me suddenly self-conscious. I really had to look like… Well, as if some [i]activity[/i] took place. I opened the door of the office and stepped inside, beckoning him to enter as well. After I lit a cigarette, I asked him what the matter was.

The blonde man frowned; "You have to cancel all the meetings scheduled for tomorrow morning. Captain Tidvar is going to interrogate a prisoner and we are to participate as witnesses."

I tried to smooth my hair and found that I had a lipstick smeared on my face. "Why me...?" I asked, as if I had not expected this at all. "I mean, you're the bodyguard, wherever the captain goes, you go...But me? A newbie…And a secretary…And a civilian too...?"

"Yeah, some civilian you are," Rudi laughed. He never frowned for long. He went to my desk and offered me a tissue with a smirk. "I mean, you managed to learn the job in half the time it took those guys that were here to replace Bartal before you. Also, you're logic is often flawless. The captain wants you there to find out what we might have missed. You are doing the same job he did, so you may be able to spot something we neglected."

I merely nodded, cleaning my face and trying to straighten my uniform. Minke made me unbutton the blouse and button it up wrongly on purpose. "Do you think there is something you could have overlooked?"

The bodyguard looked away. "Well, looks like. I still don't understand how he could smuggle out all that information right under our noses, and we don't know the exact extent of the information compromised or the identities of those he contacted. It's like he's some sort of friggin' superman."

"…And what do you think about that, personally?" I was suddenly curious. I told myself it was because the man was just nice, and perhaps he could be turned to our side…Later, of course; or that I wanted to know how dangerous he could be to me.

He gave me a crooked smile. "I'm not here to think, Theo. That's a dangerous thing for somebody in my position."

***

The next day I followed the captain and Rudi down the several flights of stairs, until we reached the third underground floor. At the end of the stairwell, a heavy metallic door stood open, showing a sparsely lit corridor that looked like the scenery from a horror movie. A sentry who checked documents stopped Tivadar and his bodyguard, while another guard checked my papers. When they were satisfied, they led us into a chamber. If it was not an interrogation room, I do not know what it was. A small space with oppressing concrete walls, a drain in the floor, and a heavy chair screwed tightly into the concrete, with restraints for legs and arms.

I noticed an officer I had not seen before standing by one wall. Minke was standing nearby, her clipboard in her hand, and a disinterested mask firmly on her face. Was it even a mask? Could she do such work without becoming desensitised eventually? Was she chosen because she could stomach this work, or was she thrown into it just like me, with no other option but to do it or betray all of her ideals and beliefs and, ultimately, her own life?

Rudi motioned for me to stand by the opposite wall from the blonde secretary and stood near me, grinning at me a bit after raising an eyebrow in Minke's direction. Before I could whisper to him that he owed me fifty bucks, a third officer entered the room, followed by two soldiers dragging a half-conscious man between them. He was dressed in a dirty while singlet and black trousers, and he was barefooted. His clothes were torn, bloodied, and stained with old sweat. The scent of poor personal hygiene wafted from him. The soldiers threw him on the chair and fixed him in the restraints. His head fell back and I could see the unshaven stubble of many days and the bruises underneath it. His hair was dark brown, greasy, long and the fringe fell into his eyes. There was something vulnerable about him, even when he was so unkempt and visibly starved, and I could easily see why Tivadar fell for him.

I looked ad Minke. Her face did not change at all, and something told me that it was not the first time she was present at such an interrogation. I looked back at Bartal, making a mental note that when we tried to get him out, we would need much more than a simple first aid kit. I also tried to calculate, based on all the books I'd read in my shop while bored, if hewould be able to walk at all or if we'd have to carry him.

Tivadar started to ask questions. From the slight shifting in Rudi's stance and from the bored look of the other officers and soldiers, I could tell these questions had been asked many times before. Soon the first punch landed, and Tivadar worked himself into a frenzy. He was shrieking at the man in the chair, demanding answers and beating him to a pulp. Despite this, his only answer was silence. I could not look anymore. I winced at each sound of impact, remembering how this felt all too well. I probably looked too green around the gills, because suddenly I felt a hand on my elbow as somebody led me out of the room.

The door slammed shut, effectively cutting the hysterical voice of our captain and the sounds of a heavy beating. I leaned against a wall, braced my hands on my knees and tried to breathe deeply. Something from Baltar's dirt and grease seemed to cloy my nose, because every breath I took smelled just like him. A hand fell on my shoulder and the scent of a familiar cologne saved me from the ever-present dirt.

"You okay, Theo?" Rudi's voice sounded concerned.

I could not speak. I slid down the wall and sat on the floor. I felt my eyes start to burn and soon the tears came. I had not cried since I was a kid, yet here I was, imitating a human fountain.

Thankfully, Rudi stayed silent, although he left his hand on my shoulder.

Eventually I dug into my pockets to produce a handkerchief. "This is so wrong, Rudi. So wrong…" I shook my head.

"I know," was his quiet answer. After a while of silence, he helped me to my feet. "Will you manage to go up to the office yourself?" He gave me a sharp look as he dusted off my clothes. Apparently, the regime did not think that the interrogation quarters needed to be as clean as the upper levels. The touch of his hand was strangely comforting.

I whispered an affirmation and went to the stairs, starting what felt like an Odyssey to the false safety of my office.

***

Tivadar did not return to the office that day. Rudi only appeared to inform me that the captain stopped for the day after failing to get a word from the prisoner. He also told me that the court martial had decided on an execution date the next morning for Bartal. The blonde bodyguard also brought me a fresh pack of cigarettes, even though he himself did not approve of smoking. He sat with me and chatted nonsense while I smoked, until the door opened as Minke came in.

Rudi jumped to his feet and left the office immediately, with only a fleeting 'hello'.

The woman looked after him, and then closed the door behind her, shaking her head. She came closer to me. "Can you do it?"

I nodded silently.

Apparently, that was not enough for her, because she shook me and turned my head until I was looking at her. "Can you really do it?"

I jerked out of her grip. "Don't touch me."

She did not touch me again, but continued, her voice soft but insistent. "Do you understand what is all at stake, Theo? Is it clear to you that we have to try to get him out tonight? That if we don't, we have to kill him ourselves before they decide to postpone the execution to try some new form of torture? That I am fully willing to sacrifice you, if needed?"

I lit yet another cigarette. It was a fourth one from the package that Rudi brought me. "I understand it all, Minke…Perhaps better than you think. I'm doing my best."

"Yes, but is that enough?" She was not satisfied with that answer either, but some footsteps could be heard in the corridor, so she did not press the matter. "Today, at ten; in here;" With that, she was gone.

***

I sat by the table and smoked for what felt like ages. After some hours though, I was able to go and wash my face at least. This perked me up a bit and I went to my suite to pick up the backpack I had readied for the occasion. In it was some food, mainly the tasteless military issued packs, as well as a few bars of chocolate, for fast energy, and a canteen of water, in addition to a syringe with adrenalin to get Alpha moving. After what I saw today, he would really need it. I added some bandages, medical tape, and disinfectant too. Lastly, there were some clothes, including an extra jacket. Than, as an afterthought, I added my spare shoes and some socks. He could not walk around barefooted.

I took another cigarette out of the package from Rudi and sighed. I was going to miss that guy. I was not disturbed at being attracted to him. My opinion was that you couldn't help who you like. To me, it is about the relationship, not the gender…And although so far I have only been attracted to women, Rudi seemed to do it for me. Well, all this was just unneeded emotional baggage now. I sighed again, lit a cigarette, shouldered the backpack, and left, not bothering to lock the suite. At least it would save somebody the trouble of breaking down the door when they looked for me tomorrow.

I arrived at my office a little before ten o'clock, but Minke was already there. Without a word, she turned and started to walk down the stairs toward the prison…interrogation quarters…Whatever; the place where the Alpha was.

I felt like a little robot, no emotions, no feelings, just numbness. Step, step, another step; Step by step, approaching the test. I do my best, but is it enough? Will I be able to do my job? [i]Step, step.[/i] Am I afraid of failure? No, I'm not. [i]Step, step.[/i] I should be worried. [i]Step.[/i] I can think. [i]Step.[/i] I can compute and calculate my actions. [i]Step, step.[/i] …But I don't feel. [i]Step.[/i] Is this how Minke feels all the time? [i]Step, step, step, step.[/i] …Or Rudi? [i]Step, step, step.[/i] No…No more thoughts of Rudi tonight. [i]Step, step.[/i] Save it for later…

What had seemed like an endless journey this afternoon was over all too soon. Minke approached the sentry by the heavy door and did not slow down. When one of the guards jumped to his feet and started to ask her something, she suddenly produced a gun with a silencer and shot him down. She turned immediately and shot down the other soldier, before he had the chance to react.
All I thought at that moment was, 'Funny, I never knew the sound of jaws colliding could be so loud'. As the good little machine I was, I picked up the bodies and arranged them so that they looked like they were sleeping.

We walked down the corridor, the blonde woman checking the numbers on the doors as we passed. She stopped in front of one of them, producing a key. She unlocked the door and we found the Alpha inside.

I did not wonder. Surprise is an emotion, and I could feel no emotion. I was a nice little robot.

We dragged him out without a word. I opened the backpack and fished out the syringe with adrenalin first. I passed it to Minke. Then I took out the socks and shoes, kneeling by the young man's feet. They were bruised too; some toes were probably broken or dislocated. I did not care about any pain I might cause him. Concern is also an emotion that I cannot afford. I was a machine. I stuffed his feet into the socks, put on the shoes and laced them. I felt his body tense suddenly and when I looked up, I saw Minke throwing an empty syringe away. I unpacked the jacket and Minke helped me to put it on the Alpha properly. I did not think about him as a person. I was a robot; Minke and him, they were machines too…No names; no feelings. We just needed to get this done. This is why we existed.

Minke took one of his hands, loping it across her shoulders and supporting the man with her other hand at his waist. Her face was concentrated, showing no emotion at all.

I did the same on my side. We turned around and started to walk back. [i]Step, step, step.[/i] You are a good little machine. Perhaps your best was good enough after all. [i]Step, step.[/i] Breathing under your fingers. Your arm touching the arm of somebody else. [i]Step, step.[/i] You might make it after all. [i]Step, step, ste-[/i]

There was the sound of a safety being cocked; then, the sound of steps…Heavier, louder. Then, shouts from the stairwell, followed by a siren. [i]Failure. Game over.[/i]


"Well, Irving, I wanted to come and see you for one last time, and what do I find?" Captain Tivadar smiled icily. "You are ready to leave us. With two of our people, none the less." The smile on his face became a feral grin. "You, mister Reimund; after your collapse today, I certainly did not expect to meet you here. Nor the lady…Of course, you were the only one who could get the bitch to spread her legs! It should have been obvious to me that something did not fit here…And now I will have to find another replacement secretary."

At that moment, Minke tried to take out her pistol to shoot him, but she had to drop the Alpha first and that slowed her down. All it took was for the dark-skinned man to place one lazy-looking kick to her wrist, and the pistol flew somewhere past us, into the dark corridor. The blonde fell to her knees, gasping and clutching her had.

I was just standing there. I was a machine. I had nothing else to do. I failed my mission. [i]Please, restart.[/i]

Soon there were soldiers all around us. They jerked the Alpha out of my hands and threw each of us into separate cells. Nobody came to talk to us, to interrogate us. That was fine. I thought that if I could keep my robotic persona until the morning, it would end there without any hysterics and any feelings. I knew they were going to execute us. That was fine; the program failed. No, the machine failed. I did my best, but it was not good enough. [i]Please, restart.[/i]

Suddenly the door opened, somebody stepped inside my cell and the door slammed closed again. I did not look up from my position in the corner, until a familiar pair of shoes entered my field of vision. I raised my head and there he was, Rudi. Panting again, dressed in casual clothes, dark jeans and a black half-unbuttoned silky shirt. It fit him nicely. It crossed my mind that I had to be arrested to see him in casual clothing and it felt silly. [i]Warning: emotions are trying to come back.[/i]

I looked at him; I stared at him for a long time, taking in his slightly messy hair, the incredulous look in his eyes, mixed with a little bit of hurt. His face, covered with a slight sheen of sweat, was just like when I saw him the very first time. His chest was rising and falling in a rapid rhythm. Some part of me agreed that this was also not a bad memory to go away with.

I looked him in the eyes again. "Why are you here, Rudi?"

He smiled his crooked smile, although it looked a bit uncertain. "I'm here to talk."

To talk…Of course; Theodor, you were such a fool to hope for something else…
 

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