Tristan was a very nice name. Elegant. Old-fashioned. It would be no hardship to answer to that name. Now, if only finding out the identity of his patron was as easy as that, he would dive back under the covers and never move a finger for the rest of his life. But reality wasn’t that understanding. He was stuck reviewing carefully every single memory his host had of his mysterious benefactor, after an online search had come up with nothing.
It was late afternoon. He drank hot cocoa lazily, wrapped in warmth, while outside it rained. Ah, the pleasures of modern life. It wasn’t 26th century luxury but it sufficed quite nicely after the medieval terror that had been his last lifetime.
Finding nothing in his memories, he frowned. For a good Samaritan, this patron of his was quite secretive. They might care about their privacy, but no news at all? He really hoped this didn’t end up to be a deep conspiracy. He had decided for this world to be his holiday, not a detective mystery. With his luck... Perhaps he should prepare for the worst as soon as possible.
The phone rang, and he picked it up despite the unknown number.
“Tristan, it’s been so long! It’s Jane. My agent said you called me earlier,” a bubbly female voice spoke.
“Ah, yes I called. You didn’t have to get back to me so soon. It was nothing urgent,” he was actually quite happy at her fast response. He could at least extrapolate some answers from this.
He hated to small talk, but he needed to take his time with this. It wouldn’t do to cut off any chances of information due to bored rudeness. “I wanted to ask about our patron,” he finally started.
The surprise in her words caught him off guard. He had been so sure there were other orphans like him. His memories couldn’t have been manipulated, could they?
“Our benefactor, the one who saved us and gave us money for housing and education?”
“Ah, him,” Oh, good, his memories were fine. “Sorry, that was so long ago, I was surprised. What about him?”
So long ago? Was she not sponsored still? Then, why was Tristan?
“Could you tell me what you know about them? I want to thank them for everything they’ve done.”
“You were always very kind, Tristan,” she seemed nostalgic. “I don’t know much though, but I still keep in touch with some of the others. Do you want their numbers?”
He thanked her profusely, as her image of Tristan would have done years back. All in all, not an unproductive call. And as she texted him a long list of numbers, he realized that Jane was more of a social butterfly that he could have ever hoped her to be. He wasn’t about to call each person in return. It was unlikely any of them knew anything, but their lifestyles could help him understand why Jane and Tristan were so different in treatment.
He opened his laptop and started hacking. It was a skill he had learned quite a few lifetimes ago and perfected over many years. It was too useful to be ignored, and while he wouldn’t call himself the best — especially compared to certain 26th century experts — he was quite proficient.
Reading what he had found, he wanted to nod in admiration. Perhaps, such good people really existed. Apparently, over the last decade, many orphans had been offered an opportunity for self-actualization that few people ever encountered. Many children of poor conditions, regardless of race, gender, age or ethnicity had been offered good housing and care until they reached adulthood, or finished college. This particular Good Samaritan had a preference for the arts it seemed, because after that, if children decided to sing, to dance, to write, to paint, to act or continue in some form of entertainment, they would be given help to establish themselves. The preferential levels of treatment did not end in the arts. For reasons he couldn’t identify, some newly established artists lost sponsorship the moment they reached financial independence.
However, all of them had more agency and control in their lives than Tristan did. Tristan lived in a good house and had an account with a good amount of savings. Money was added to his account every month. He didn’t pay rent or mortgage. Insurance, bills and taxes were paid for him. He only bought food and painted. His paintings were sold by a third party. That money was also added to his account. The others had been cut off at some point. Tristan hadn’t. He couldn’t find any others whose sponsorship continued past self-actualization. After checking for orphans with similar conditions to his, he found a possible candidate that might be like him, but he couldn’t be sure.
Jane had been one of those children who had been given the slip once reaching financial independence. That was six years ago. Now, she was a professional dancer and lived quite comfortably through her own effort.
He should look at this glass half-full. Perhaps, the reason why Tristan (and possibly that other like-Tristan orphan) was still being ‘kept’ was because he had never taken the initiative to take control of his life fully. A simple person like him would be satisfied with such a life and wouldn’t ask for more or the reasons why. Maybe, that was what the organizers in charge of this had thought when they saw him: a boy who simply wouldn’t grow up, so they had to take care of him.
There was no way that it was that simple. He couldn’t even convince himself. Fate hated him, and it usually hated his hosts. Why on Earth would a person of such wealth as to finance hundreds, if not thousands, of children keep it a secret? The good PR alone would be enviable, let alone the tax benefits from such charity.
Ugh, he was not a glass half-full person at all. He could still be proven wrong. Tristan died during sleep, likely due to arrhythmia or some other heart-related illness, before he switched through. If Tristan was important and had been kept under observation, why hadn’t anyone forced him to schedule regular doctor visits or helped with his condition through medicine or other means. A laissez-faire person like Tristan wouldn’t have even cared what the pills were for, as long as they came from the care of his patron’s selected doctors. Instead, beside being given everything to accommodate his chosen lifestyle, he had been free to do whatever he wished. Whether he killed himself due to an awful diet or lack of self-care, his patron or his organization didn’t mind.
Looking over some of the finished paintings that Tristan had hung in the living room, he started formulating a plan that would get him back some agency, before he could focus on figuring out the intentions of this organization. Hopefully, he was wrong, Fate had slid over to the love part of their hate-love relationship and the glass was half full.
Otherwise, he had a powerful control-freak of a stalker after his body and/or talents, thus he would need to prepare to run halfway across the world, but only after kindly thanking said stalker for paying him for the grooming of said body and/or talents.
His cocoa cup was cold and half-empty. He put it in the microwave to warm it up.
He hated running.