“... oh, no no no! No no no no no! Wil my dear, you’re doing it all wrong! This is a matter of supreme importance! Now, watch me!”
Their makeshift table was set with a simple bit of white cloth, nothing on their plates, no plates to begin with, and thankfully, no one else in the building to witness any of it. They were alone; Wil, the cool, calm American and her musician, the latter sporting a manic, frowning twist of lips seemingly so accustomed to outburst they held the open position permanently whilst he demonstrated his point. His pretty fingers held the lemon to the curve of the agent’s penknife, letting the blade kiss the hard yellow puckering of dimples as though the pensive fruit were a canvas and the knife a brush in his able hand. Halved at once, the lemon slid down languidly past the edge of the knife and clapped a thick thud on the tablecloth, whereas the younger man stuffed a hand in his pocket, digging, tugging, straining for something...
When did they end, those pockets? Wil wondered at it, and questioned, too, why he hadn’t noticed her noticing. She turned to the American and queried him.
“Is he always this... macrocosmic?”
The charming albino smiled, showing a perfect set of whites beneath thin, devilishly kissable lips.
“If I needed to hazard a guess, I would have to say mostly yes. But you’ve already answered that question yourself, Miss Beinert. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have voiced it to me. That other thing you were wondering... the usual whys, whats, wheres, I presume? I am so very sorry, but you’ll have to ask my companion. I tend to leave things need-to-know. A bad habit, but very hard to break.”
An inward-turning smile formed across his face then, for a tiny little moment that seemed to last forever to Wil. Why were they here, searching for old coins, her collection of marks in particular? She didn’t care about that at the moment, and the American had known that before he’d spoken.
What she really wanted to know was, who? Who was this young man, this boy, who played and sang like a master, who quibbled like a grandfather? His claim about a lost granddaughter... it piqued her curiosity. So she turned to him, a fire for knowledge in her bright eyes, and said, “So what was her name?”
Wil’s musician stopped with the diner-style salt shaker half way to his mouth, having forgotten the lemon somewhere between a prattling recitation on the missing dialogues of Plato and the existence of secret handshakes in the lost Land of Mu. It was her turn to smile. He hadn’t heard a word she’d said.
Or so she thought. But he was still holding the salt shaker when the agent reached for his hand and tried to lower his shaking fingers to the table five minutes later, exactly.
“I’m sorry, Wil, Aloysius,” he murmured, brushing a hand through his forward hanging mop of brown hair.
He looked haggard... but it was an old tiredness. How long had he carried that with him? As Wil caught his gaze, he shifted expression with the seamless grace of countless years of practice. With a sigh he studied the edge of their -tablecloth-, as though he didn’t want to face something, as though everything of sight had become a furnace to burn him alive. It would have been so easy to sit back down, to shrug it off the way he always had since the Late Great War. But he would not be doing that this day. No, not this day. So he slid his hands along the planks, feeling through the wood for weakness with his horrible, heightened senses. And horrible he was, for in that moment, he flung the table over their heads and made out the door, using the white cloth they’d covered the planks in to hide his escape.
The two remaining looked at each other in their cocoons of white and stood still. The agent knew what had happened. The man with all the answers had fled into the night, in the exact opposite direction of his hopes. Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast stood up then, and, quickly grasping Wil Beinert’s hand in the mess of white sheet, tugged sharply. The sheet disappeared to the side, and Wil stood there, incredulity mounting something of a frontal assault on her still quite girlish features.
“Stay close and follow me. We have to reach our... transport and vacate the immediate premises. I am truly sorry, Miss Beinert. None of us suspected that he would bolt quite so soon. Ordinarily, he only leaves when everything is done. I suspect we will see The Doctor again soon.”
The Doctor? The Doctor? More questions. Wil only nodded and took his hand. There wasn’t quite enough information for her to stay, and too much not to. Aloysius nodded back, and they both spun together in the other direction, fleet of foot on the trail of escape from whence they’d come. But still the question was there, filling Wil’s head. It felt like drowning. She had to see him again, to find the answer. It was the long haul, or nothing.