Working Title: All Face – Session Five

This chapter is a little short, as are the next two. They’ll get expanded on rewrite. I have to decide what to do with Ostanes’ accent – I haven’t added it to all of his dialogue. I may do italics instead of the doubled letters or I may just drop it (I have a sneaking suspicion an editor would say ‘drop it, add a narrative note if you must’).

ETA June 2013: Content notice for mention of parental death.

 Neill decided not to tell Ostanes about the proposal immediately. It still wasn’t certain and he seemed to put great weight in having his ‘face.’ There was no sense in upsetting him without cause.

“Good afternoon,” Neill said once the guards left. Ostanes only opened up once they were alone.

“Hi doc. Having a good day?”

“What?”

“You’re happy, aren’t you?”

“Yes. I’m having a potentially successful day.”

“That’s good. Those are always nice.”

“What about you?”

“Better. Thank you.”

“I meant to ask, is ‘Ostanes’ your first or last name?”

“Middle, actually.”

“You go by your middle name?”

“It’ss… the one I prefer.”

“Why’s that?”

“It’s what my parrents always called me.”

“Are your parents alive, Ostanes?”

There was a long pause, uncomfortably long.

“My father was killed during The War.” Very monotone.

“I’m sorry. What about your mother?”

Another pause. “I’m not… entirely sure where my mother is. I believe she’s still in Odede, but I can’t be sure.” There was a bit of monotone there.

“You don’t keep in touch with her?”

“It’s difficult. She doesn’t like technology. She doesn’t have a telephone. And” – touch of a humor – “I’m in here.”

“Oh. Does that bother you? That she’s hard to get a hold of?”

“No. I can find herr when I want to.”

“Does she know where you are?”

“I don’t know. I doubt it.”

“You don’t sound especially close.”

“We understand each other. We like each other.”

“You don’t think she would be upset with what you’ve done?”

He tilted his head slightly. “Pos-sibly. It’s hard to say.”

“Is she very much like you?”

“In ways. Not personality-wise.”

“What about with your make-up?”

His hands in his lap twitched. “I don’t like that word, doc.”

Neill paused. “What word?”

“’Make-up.’ It’s not simple cosmetics.”

“What is it then?”

“Hm… a kind of alchemy.” Ostanes’ victims had been found surrounded, and covered with, strange symbols that had finally been identified as related to alchemy. He had been dubbed ‘The Alchemist’ after that.

“Magic.”

“Not magic. Magic is trricks.”

“Alchemy doesn’t work.”

A flicker of a smile. “It depends on what you define as the goal.”

“Were your parents were interested in alchemy?”

“My parents are alchemists.”

“Were- were you named after someone?”

“Verry good, doc. Look it up.”

“Ostanes was an alchemist, then?”

“Good doc. Yes.”

“We were talking about your mother.”

“We were.” He looked away. “No, he isn’t like her, personality-wise. You’ll have to ask him for more.”

“And you- are you an alchemist?”

His eyes twinkled. “Yes.”

“And what does that involve?”

“Changing things.”

“Lead into gold.”

“That’s never worked. It’ss a metaphor.”

“For what?”

“That’s the secrret, doc.”

“Is that- is that why you committed those crimes? To find out the secret?”

“No. Definitely not. I know the secret. Not like thiss.” His hand flicked toward his face, the cuff clinking. “My mother taught me.”

Neill had a sinking feeling. “Does she…?”

“Kill people? Not as far as I know. You might ask him.”

“Does he have a name?”

“Of course.”

“Do you know what the press called you?”

“’The Alchemist.’ Ridiculous.”

“You said your mother taught you the secret. Taught you or taught him?”

“It was the same thing, then.”

“Does your mother, uh, have a separate face?”

“No. That’ss… my own, ah, idiosyncrasy.”

“Can you explain it?”

“Not like this.”

“Can you try?”

His eyebrows flicked together. “It’ss… no. I can’t reach it.” His shook his head a touch. “How long will it be?”

“Will what be?”

“Until I get my face. You talked to your supervisor, didn’t you?”

Neill didn’t feel like dealing with how he guessed that. “Yes.”

“And?”

“You have to be patient.”

His hands tightened. “He won’t let me.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Doc, you have me on tenterhooks.”

“He has to talk to the doctor’s board. They decide changes in policy.”

His hands clenched into fists. It was the most emotion Neill had seen from him.

“I see,” he said in a monotone and his hands slowly relaxed. “It’s been two years, doc, I can wait a little longer.”

 

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