Watching and Wondering

Prompt: I wished for eyes that could see into a man’s heart

Finian frowned slightly as he watched his parents. He was sure they didn’t know he was watching. If they knew, Momma wouldn’t be yelling at Da. If they knew he was watching, Da wouldn’t be crying.

After a while, Momma stormed off. She was going to the market. Finian waited until the door slammed. Then, he made his way down the steps. “Da?” he said, tilting his head to one side.

Da looked up at him with wide, glistening eyes. “Finny,” he said. He forced a smile onto his face. Finian could tell it was forced, because he was still crying. “What’s wrong?”

“Why are you crying?” he said. He stepped over and took Da’s hand. “Did Momma hurt you?”

“No,” Da said, wiping his face. He sighed and shook his head. “She didn’t hurt me. We just had an argument and I don’t like arguing with your Momma. I’m sorry we upset you.”

Finian nodded. “I don’t like it either,” he said. He wished he could understand why Momma would get angry with Da. How could two people who loved each other so much, seem to hate each other at the same time?

Author’s note: I realized after I’d written this that Maeve comes off as abusive. She’s not physically abusive and was never more than very controlling of Ezra. Allan is just very sensitive – he means just what he says here: he’s crying because he doesn’t like arguing with his wife. It breaks his heart that they can’t come to some sort of compromise on this subject (just what… hopefully, I can reveal later). This story was partially inspired by “The Only Exception” by Paramore.

Equal Under the Law

Prompt: the esthetic of lostness

“So,” Keenan said, looking at Joram, Aidan and Thom, “that’s where things stand. We know that Lord Haffley killed Cass.”

“But he won’t say who else on either council is part of the splinter movement,” Aidan said, nodding. “It’s not like we can take all the republicans out of public office. They were duly elected, after all.”

“The same is true of the other members of the High Court,” Joram said, shaking his head. “Without any sort of proof showing that a person was involved, our hands are tied.”

Keenan nodded. “We’ll just have to be careful,” he said. “We’ll watch out for laws that might infringe on the rights of citizens who are from other ethnic backgrounds. We’ll keep an eye out for instances when they’re being unfairly excluded.”

“We caught the guy,” Thom said, sounding upset. “So, why does it seem like we’ve lost?”

“Because,” Keenan said, “the fight goes on.” He smiled faintly and said, “But that was just one battle. We haven’t won the war yet, but we’ve made a good start.”


Prompt: where people go

“Lord Haffley,” Thom said, as the noble slipped into the church sanctuary. Why was it that people felt the need to go back to the scene of their crime? He stepped out of hiding at the same time that Aidan did.

“You’re under arrest,” Aidan said. “The charges are the attempted murder of Ezra Pemberton and the murder of Cassidy Reinsch.”

Haffley looked horrified. “You,” he breathed. “Why did they send you to take me in? I wanted Amon!”

Thom frowned and looked at Noreen. “What?” he said.

“Amon is ethnically Shynian,” Syusuke said. He shook his head and looked over at the noble. “You’ll just have to settle for these two, my lord. Really, it doesn’t matter. They’ll send you off to South Cape Prison, same as he would.”

That seemed to bring Haffley up short. “You’ve got no proof,” he said.

“On the contrary,” Thom said, “we have all the proof we need and a witness. Pemberton recognized your voice.” However, they might never have caught him, if he hadn’t returned to the scene of the crime.


Prompt: without sense of time lost

“Do you know what day it is?” the doctor asked, looking down at Ezra’s chart.

Ezra blinked. “Wouldn’t that depend on how long I was unconscious?” he said. He pursed his lips and shook his head. “It was Friday when I was attacked. That’d make it Saturday, at the least.”

A faint smile touched the doctor’s lips. “The questions are meant to judge your mental capacity. It’s standard to ask when someone’s just returning to consciousness.” He looked back at the chart and made a few notations. “Do you know who the current President is?”

Ezra’s brows furrowed. He really wished they’d taking him to a Shynian hospital. “Please don’t mistake my hesitation for memory loss,” he murmured. “I’m not from here.” He gave the man an impish grin. “I could tell you who our Prime Minister is?”

The doctor chuckled softly.

More Than You Know

Prompt: the whole unvisited world

Chris looked at Ezra again. “We’ll find him, Ezra,” he said. “The Agency will send people to bring him into custody.”

“It’s very likely,” Ezra said, his voice faint, “that he is also the person who killed Judge Reinsch. It’s the same MO. I’d have to do a stress test…”

“Sysuke will do the stress test,” Chris said, smoothing the blankets. “The only thing you’re going to do is rest.”

A faint smile touched Ezra’s lips and he nodded. “I wish I could still paint,” he whispered. “The drugs they’ve given me for the pain will give me amazing dreams. I have this whole… unvisited world in my head and, now, I’ve got no way to document it.”

Chris chuckled. “Only you would worry about that at a time like this,” he said. As he stood, Travis entered the room. He nodded. “Stay with him,” he said.

“If not me, someone else,” Travis agreed. “He will not be alone until Lord Haffley is in custody.”


Prompt: the call of sea, stars and sky

Ezra felt like he was drifting. He couldn’t say if he was floating in the air or on the water, but he couldn’t feel anything solid under his body. He liked the sensation, but he knew he couldn’t stay in that place. There was something he needed to do.

He could hear voices calling to him. They seemed to come from all around him. At first, he couldn’t make out what they were saying. Then, slowly, a single voice started to make sense to him. He could pick out words from them. He knew that voice. He focused on it.

“…know Ezra,” the voice was saying. “He won’t wake up until he’s good and ready.”

He forced his eyes open and blinked slowly. “Chris?” he said. His voice came out weak and muffled by a mask that covered most of his face. He scowled and tried to pull it away.

A man he didn’t know caught his hands gently. “Leave that there,” he said, his voice soothing. “Do you know where you are? Do you remember what happened?”

Ezra frowned and then his eyes widened as his memories came rushing back. “Hospital,” he said. His voice was stronger now, but still muffled. “I was… attacked.”

Chris looked up sharply. “Did you see who it was, Ezra?” he asked, looking into his eyes.

Shaking his head, Ezra said, “Came at me from the shadows, but… I heard him. He said I should have listened.” His brows furrowed. “It was Lord Haffley.”

AN: Heidi, do you recognize the doctor?

From the Darkness

Prompt: grin like a dog

Ezra, in spite of warnings from Aidan to let them handle it and threats from the strange voice on the telephone to stay out of things that didn’t concern him, couldn’t simply let the matter drop. After all, he was part of the group these people were trying to exclude.

He was in church. In fact, he was praying for guidance. A sound, just the soft brush of a slipper on the stone tiles, drew his attention from his meditations. Eyes wide, he whirled away from the altar. In the shadows, he could see a figure.

All he could make out was that the person was taller than him. His eyes seemed to glint in the darkness. White teeth caught the light of the candles, then there was a flash of steel. Ezra cried out as pain spread across his chest.

He fell where he was, his hand clasped over the wound. He looked up to see the feral smile one last time. Then, his eyes closed.

“Should have listened,” a soft voice said.

Ezra knew that voice and not from the telephone calls. He forced his eyes open, but the intruder was gone. He pulled out his cell and pressed two buttons. He heard Chris pick up, but he couldn’t speak.

As darkness closed in, he heard, “Hang on, Ezra! We’re coming!”

Wandering Thoughts

Prompt: where we will, we’ll roam

“Have they come back with any kind of statement?” Eishi said, looking from Joram to Henry. He released an explosive sigh. “The not knowing is maddening!”

“And scary,” Henry added. He fussed with his overlong sleeves for a moment. “I mean… are the rest of us in any kind of danger?”

Joram sighed and then looked up as the door opened. Barnabas and Amera entered, with Keenan close behind. “Hey,” he said. His greeting was casual, but Joram knew him well enough to see how tense he was.

“What?” Joram said, standing. “What have your people learned, Keenan?”

Keenan grimaced. “We found the man who killed Cassidy, but he’s not talking,” he said. “He doesn’t need to tell us much, though. We know this: Edith and Mari were… pressured to retire when they did. Their lives were threatened. Cassidy might have received the same threats, but that’s not confirmed.”

“Dear Lord,” Joram breathed. “Why? Who?”

“Not sure of the who,” Keenan admitted. “We know why, though.” He shook his head. “A faction within the Republican party – more extreme than most of the members – wants to keep power in the hands of a few. They feel that those few should be racially Shynian and, apperently, they’ll stop at nothing to see that happen.”

“So,” Henry said, his brows furrowing. “Are the rest of us in danger?”

“Our evidence says you aren’t,” Keenan said. “However, I’m still worried enough that I’m going to leave you all under protection a while longer.”

He bowed, then, and slipped out of the room. Joram shook his head and glanced around at his fellows. All of them were deep in thought. The idea that someone would threaten Mari and Edith to retire – that someone would kill Cassidy – over such a petty reason was madness. Joram knew that not all republicans were like that. Barnabas was a republican and had been nothing but kind to them.

“I… can’t focus on work right now,” Joram said, shaking his head. “It’s like my thoughts are a hamster on a wheel. All I can think about is – is Cassidy and Edith and Mari.”

“We’ll convene this afternoon,” Barnabas said, nodding. “I’ll inform the clerks that we’re taking the morning off.” He bowed and slipped out of the room, leaving the rest to their wandering thoughts.

Strange Ideas

Prompt: Off the beaten path I reign

“They called you?” Aidan said, his brows were furrowed. “They didn’t actually say they were going to kill you, though.”

“I was with the Underground for ten years, sir,” Ezra said, shaking his head. “That’s long enough to be able to read between the lines. The caller disguised their voice and said I should stay out of things that weren’t my concern. There was an implied threat.”

“Why threaten you?” Thom asked. “Why not someone who’s actually part of the investigation? They obviously aren’t worried about the Agency coming after them for threatening one of us.”

“They might not realize that I’m an agent,” Ezra said, shaking his head. “We are trying to keep that particular fact under wraps, after all.”

“That’s a little far a field, though,” Aidan said, frowning.

Ezra grinned. “Sir,” he said, “far a field is where I live – so many things I’m involved with outside the norm, I practically rule there.”

Into the World

Prompt: longer ways to go

Ezra was distracted when he went to worship that day. He knew he was meant to leave his trouble at the door. He knew he was meant to focus his heart and mind on God. Yet, he concerned by everything that he’d learned – by everything that had happened recently. His worries made the task of focusing on worship one that was easier said than done.

As the pastor began her sermon, however, something in her words caught his attention. It was easy, she said, to tell of God’s love to those who came into the building. Yet, they were meant to go into the world and do the same. They were meant to rely on God’s strength – on their faith in Jesus – to overcome their fear.

Ezra chewed his lip thoughtfully. If those who sought to exclude those of mixed heritage from the government heard God’s word – that all were God’s children – would they turn from their prejudice? Who was to say? All Ezra knew was that he was meant to try. It frightened him, but he had to try. That was what God wanted him to do.

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