Prompt: “Dying is easy. Coming back is where things get tricky."
Perspective: First Person
Genres: Supernatural, Secrets, Drama
Length: 904 words
-Part two of three
-Peculiarly Old-World manners
Author Notes: It's odd that this literally has all the same warnings as part one. I intended this to be a two parter, but it's going to take at least three.
Part two is all about Jeremy (Jeremiah) expressing his side of the story and tossing the ball into Ambrose's side of the court. It does make a few things a little more clear and makes things a little less creepy than part one is on its own.
Please read "Endowment" first so things make sense, okay?
Oh, his face was different in some ways and his hair was a different color and a different length, but I could see the shadow of the Tolly I had known so intimately so long ago. I knew things about him that he would never admit to anyone in this day, in this guise. We had come together in our first lifetimes, the lives we had been born to. We had known each other as children and known each other's families and we had mourned our losses together, parents and siblings and friends and innocence.
I had been adopted by the Peabody's when my father's second wife died giving birth to my stillborn brother one spring. My father had died the winter before, falling to the new diseases of the New World and the stresses of uprooting our family and giving up the life we'd known. Fa had been a quiet and usually happy man, but leaving our extended family behind put undue stress on him.
Tolly had given me joy I'd rarely felt as the extra child, the extra burden. He had believed in me and just cared for me in ways that were too innumerable and yet too necessary to properly describe. So when he told me his mother's secret, that they were not bound by life and death the way all others were, I didn't just listen: I believed.
And when he reached five-and-twenty and disappeared from my life after his sister's death, I couldn't help but wonder. And when life overwhelmed me and I needed to get out of it, I remembered his words and the mysterious mother I had never known. So I brought together a life, a name and a face and a personality, and I tossed myself off a cliff.
No one was more surprised than me that I survived it --and the village was distrustful of a youthful stranger who seemed to know too much about them all.
So I left my home and had been following Tolly ever since.
Sure, his face had changed and he went through a variety of names and professions, but I knew him wherever he went. Perhaps it was something ingrained in the things we were, in creatures that changed their faces and appearances on a whim, but his aura seemed to glow out for my eyes alone.
I'd been born in England, an England that no longer existed because it had changed and grown into a massive city that I no longer recognized. The New World had been my home since I was a lad of ten and yet it was just as foreign as the Far East. I had fought for things I wanted, things I believed in, like independence and freedom and equal treatment, and I never returned the same from those encounters. Plus, it's really not that hard to die at war; it's just harder to hold that crystalline image of a new future and new life.
There was no one who remembered the world I'd been born to. And Heaven knew, I was so tired of being so lonely and being unable to relate to the superficial people my life brushed against that I dare not let myself get attached to. I had lived for centuries and would live for many more; their lives were such fleeting beautiful things that I dare not interfere in. I remembered their ancestors and they would never understand the soul-deep persistence and heart that impressed me about the human race.
The only being on the planet that might understand me, understand the isolation and awe I experienced in equal measures when surrounded by the humans I lived among but was not a part of, would be Tolly. Yet for some reason, though I recognized him over the years in more than twenty different forms, he did not seem to recognize me.
It hurt, that the man who was my first love and my first everything didn't know me. Part of my brain whispered to me that he had been told he was the last of our kind: why would he look to see the same soul in different bodies? Yet even that truth did not soothe the pain I held inside.
So I tried to ease into it, brushing my life against his in all of our incarnations and making subtle remarks that should ring true for him. None of my subtlety seemed to register, however, and after over two centuries of subtle, I got impatient. I got impatient and lazy and brazen and I scared him off.
He fled from the hotel lobby like there were hellhounds nipping at his heels and I couldn't find it in me to blame him. I had sprung it all on him in about ten minutes time and it was my fault he had run. I wasn't sure how to correct it, how to manage the situation I had created, but I had to do something.
So I plastered my practiced 'I'm a Historian; Trust Me' smile and walked up to the reception desk. "Hello," I greeted, using my gentle smile to prod the lovely young lady who was running the desk. "I believe an old friend of mine is staying here. Can I leave a message for him here?"
The pretty brunette smiled at me with the genuine happiness of someone who actually enjoyed their job, something I rarely saw at all. "Oh, of course you can, sir. What is your friend's name?" Her tone was nearly as bright as her smile.
"Ah, Mister Rivers. And what message would you like to leave for him?"
I swallowed down whatever I wanted to say. I didn't need this message to stick in the young lady's head because it was odd. It took me a second to come up with the right words. " 'It's been a long time, old friend.' And then just put this number with that message," I instructed her, sliding my business card across the counter to her.
Her smile almost seemed to falter. "Don't you want to leave a name?"
"Oh, he'll know exactly who it's from, my dear," I replied gently, smiling at her. "I used to leave him messages like this all the time."
"Ah, okay," she replied, still looking a little put off even as she entered the information.
Now all I had to do was wait on Tolly. That would end well.
Lots of love, darling koi, and I'll see you soon, at least to wish you Happy Holidays!