What did matter was the phone call he had got from Matt when he had returned from his latest trip. A frantic call which squeezed Whitfield’s heart into his throat, never had he heard his friend so worried or panicked Matt rarely became flustered, in all of the century's that Whit had known him he had seen him worry about something once maybe twice, the situation that he now found himself must be dire for him to react like this. Whitfield had hurried round to his friend’s house to discuss it further.
“What’s the problem Matt? You seemed so agitated on the phone.” Whitfield said as he stepped through the front door
“While I was away I heard that there was possible a rogue ‘Advanced’ making his presence known within our community.”
“That is drastic news, do you know where?” Whit asked, dropping himself into a chair at the kitchen table. Matt sat down opposite him placing a cup of coffee down in front of them both.
“I heard that he is here in England but I have no real details, no one knows who it is or what he has been up to. I don't know where the rumours started or what caused people to start talking but just the idea is troubling enough to warrant an investigation.” He explained taking slip of his drink and finding it still too hot.
“I haven't heard anything myself but as you know I have been quite preoccupied lately but don't worry I will help you all I can.”
“Yes I know and I appreciate your help, I always do. How is it going with him?”
“Oh you know, getting better, still different but I think that I am getting a hold of myself again.”
“rSo your flowers didn't put him off then?” Matt laughed at his friends discomfort at the reminder of his hasty attempt to remain in contact with Franc.
“No thankfully, he sent me a text once he received my number and we met for coffee, I managed to convince him that I'm not a weirdo stalker and that I only want to help.”
“He bought that!” Matt joked.
“Hardy har, you know that I seem to have developed a problem around him and I am not a stalker, as such.”
“Yes, yes I know I was just pulling your leg, jeez!”
“I know Matt, I do but this one has got me all over the place, I don’t know what has come over me.”
“Well at least you haven’t scared him off.”
“Thank the Gods for small mercies!”
“The Gods? When did you get religion?” Matt laughed at his friends words, both of them had been born before the advent of Gods and religion.
“It’s a figure of speech Matt.”
“Do you remember when we were Gods? Those were the days!" Matt sighed wistfully thinking back on days gone by.
"Were they really?"
"Well yeah in as much as we didn't have to hide who we are! You don’t think so Whit?
“I suppose, for that reason but the world has moved on and I wouldn’t want to go back to that, not even if it meant that we didn’t have to hide our true selves, I much prefer the modern world.”
“Yeah I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to life in both times.”
“Were do you plan to start looking do you think?” Whit asked bringing the subject back around to where they had started.
“Huh? Oh yeah the potential rogue, I don’t know, I need to find the source of the rumours and work my way from there.”
“Okay well if I hear anything I will let you know, I best be off now I need to make a start on finding Kori.”
“Kori?” Matt enquired
“Franc’s missing boyfriend, helping locate him is my way of getting to know Franc better.”
“Ah an easy in, fantastic.”
Whitfield left Mateo to think about what he could do about the situation concerning the rogue ‘Advanced Human’ they needed to find him quickly before he became a danger to ‘Advanced’ and ‘Standard Humans’ alike. He most probably was already a danger to ‘Standards’ and if the situation got out of hand then he would be a danger to the way of life that most ‘Advanced Humans’ treasured, living side by side with ‘Standards’ with no fear of attack. There had been a time when his kind was revered but that changed and they became feared so they went underground until they had become nothing but legend and fantasy, it was then that it was safe for them to return to living amongst the others that vastly outnumbered them despite being the weaker species. Most of his kind were happy with the way their lives were and could blend in without a problem or care but every now and then one of them would arise and not be content with the peaceful existence and would want to dominate their weaker brethren, occasionally over the years some of these rogues had become powerful and risen to heights that gave them the opportunity they needed to start their domination attempts. It was because of these few that the majority had decided there should be some of their kind that actively sought out and destroyed these rogues for the greater good of humanity. Both Mateo and Whitfield were members of this elite group and had over the centuries saved many lives albite unknown to the majority of people, but right now Whit was unable to help his friend as he couldn’t concentrate on anything other than his changeling, he needed to figure out why things weird this time, he had never been so worried about losing a potential changeling before, it didn’t make sense to him, it’s not like he had got emotionally involved, he hardly knew the guy and he never got emotionally involved, with anyone. Once he had got a hold of himself or moved forward with his plans, whichever proved to be the most effective, he could help Matt, if he still needed it. He had an idea of where he was going to start, he just had to decide when.
“Matt, have you found him yet? It’s been a couple of weeks now.” Whitfield asked
“No Whit, I haven’t, not yet. It would be easier if I had a name or even knew what he looked like.” Matt shrugged his shoulders in resignation.
“Are you sure that Kitty would recognise him?”
“She knows him from somewhere I can’t remember where she said though. We will find him and follow the rumours until we find the threat.” Mateo insisted
“Is that where she is now?” Questioned Whitfield.
“Yeah that or shopping, you know how she is.”
“She always has been a little flighty.” Whit confirmed, talking about Matt’s girlfriend, a fellow ‘Advanced Human’ Matt had told him that the person he had heard the original rumour from had turned out to be a friend of hers.
“I haven’t heard anything new so maybe she will come back with something helpful.”
“Hopefully so, what time will she be back?” Whit agreed
“I don’t know she didn’t say. How’s the project coming along?”
“It’s going a little slower than I thought it would, it’s a bit more complicated than usual but it is moving along and will be completed soon enough. But I do have more time now so I can help you if you need me to.” Whitfield planned on leaving it at that as he didn’t think he was ready to let Matt in on his problems just yet, he still couldn’t get his head around them himself despite spending the last couple of weeks doing nothing but thinking about it and avoiding seeing Franc, he had spoken to him via text and email in regards to the missing person search. He didn’t need to watch him anymore but found that he missed it, missed seeing the sparkle in his blue eyes when he laughed and the way he always looked so deep in thought when he sat outside his work place or home smoking a cigarette. He realised that the reason he wanted to help him find Kori was not because it might help convince him to join him but because he hated to see how sad he was without him, Whit wanted Franc to laugh again and be happy and if that meant finding Kori for him then that is what he was going to do!
“Are you listening Whit?” Matt asked as he poked Whitfield in the shoulder.
“Sorry what? I was just thinking” Whit came back to earth with a shake of his head.
“I noticed, what’s on your mind?” Concern sounded in Matt’s voice and was mirrored in his eyes as he looked at his friend wondering what it was that had him so distracted lately.
“Oh nothing really, I was just thinking about my changeling. What were you saying?” Whit responded trying to sound upbeat and focused.
“I asked if there was anything that I could do to help you with the project.”
Whit sighed and changed his mind. He decided to fill Matt in on what had been happening over the last couple of weeks deciding that telling him his problems wasn’t going to make them any worse and thinking that maybe he could help him to snap out of the mood he was in and maybe he could help to find Kori for Franc.
When Whitfield had finished recounting the last few days to Mateo they sat in silence for a time until Matt said.
“I think I might know what your problem is.”
“Well you normally refer to the projects and the changelings as exactly that, the, but this one you have been referring to as my or rather yours.”
“You have a connection to this one, you feel for him. This one is not just a new ‘Advanced Human’ to you, this one is something more, something special!” Matt exclaimed feeling good that he had worked it out and helped his friend.
“No, that can’t be I don’t, can’t get emotionally attached to anyone!” Whit was horrified at the thought, it couldn’t be not after the last time he did not get emotionally involved with new people.
“Okay Whit if you say so but that is what I think is happening and that is why you can’t concentrate around your changeling!” Matt smirked as he watched the emotions play across his friends face, denial, horror and finally confusion.
“I have to go…”
“Okay I’ll see you soon Whit, don’t fret over it, it’s a natural part of life, don’t worry about what you can’t change! You taught me that old friend.”
Matt showed Whit out and watched him walk down the road in the direction of his own house. He couldn’t help but worry about him, he hadn’t seen him like this in many, many years but at the same time he knew that it would be good for him to connect with somebody new, somebody that he could get to know and discover the way he used to, before.
Whitfield wandered away from Matt’s house turning his words over in his mind as he went. He had to be wrong Whit did not fall for anyone, not ‘Advanced’ or ‘Standard Humans’, he just couldn’t allow himself that luxury, refused to allow himself to be so open, so vulnerable, not now not ever! It was distracting and made his job difficult. He didn’t need to bare his soul, he had a few friends that he loved and if he wanted to fuck he could find a willing partner, male or female, he was never short of choices and rarely found it hard to find an interested party. He had no need for romantic love and had absolutely no intention of falling into that trap, again.
Many years before he had been in love but that person was now lost to him and he did not wish to revisit the pain that affairs of the heart bring to a person, for hundreds of years he had survived well enough without it and he will continue to do so for hundreds more. He could not deny that he found Franc attractive and would gladly take him to bed if he wished for him to but Franc was a man in love and had no interest in him and that didn’t bother Whitfield at all but there was still a quietly nagging voice in the back of his mind wanting to know why he had been avoiding him.