As he drew closer, he saw that the person was not, in fact, a child, but rather a short, thin young man with dark, loosely curled hair and the shadow of a beard on his face. By the time Seymour reached him, he had already gotten over the rail and was perched precariously on the narrow ledge on the other side, facing him. His face was dirt-smudged and tearstained.
“Wait,” Seymour repeated, suddenly aware of the tears running down his own face, mingling with the rain. “Don’t do it, please don’t do it.”
Slowly, the man looked up and met his gaze. He had the prettiest eyes that Seymour had ever seen—dark brown and almond-shaped, set at a slight angle.
“Please,” he said, extending a hand toward him. “Come back!”
The man did not reply, or even move, but for his mouth, which he opened and closed without a sound.
“Can you talk?”
“Y-yes,” he said, his pale face flushing red. “Usually.”
“Then let’s talk,” said Seymour. “How old are you?”
“I’m…I don’t know. I’ve been in the dark so long, I guess I’ve lost track.”
“When were you born?”
“January 19th, 1198.”
“You are eighteen years old. You’ll be nineteen in…almost exactly three months. What do you want for your birthday? Or should I surprise you?”
“I want you to have something to look forward to,” Seymour said.
The man smiled slightly, wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his tunic. “Surprise me.”
“I suppose it’s a bit forward of me, asking your age before I even know your name.” The detective bowed his head meekly. “Sorry about that.”
“No worries. I’ve heard much worse.” He held out his right hand. “Seoc. Seoc MacInnes.”
Seymour clasped Seoc’s small, slender hand in his own large, flat one. “I’m Seymour. Seymour de Winter.”
“So tell me, Seymour,” said Seoc. “Are you real, or are you a figment of my overactive imagination?”
“I’m pretty sure I’m real, although I feel like I might be dreaming.”
“Same here. Another question—” Seoc blushed again. “Are you single?”
Seymour made a face halfway between a frown and a grimace. “Well, kind of.”
“I’ve been sleeping with a girl, but I don’t think I’d call it a relationship,” he said, and then—because Seoc’s face had fallen so far that it looked as if he might just step off the ledge without a second thought—he quickly added, “I’m bisexual.”
“Oh. I just wanted to say…I just wanted to say that I think you’re beautiful and you might be an angel and I’m really terrified that this is all in my head and I’m going to wake up in a second and you won’t be here anymore, and I need you to be here because I don’t want to die, Seymour, I don’t want to die!”
He started to sob violently. Seymour reached over the rail and lifted him back onto the safe part of the bridge. His body was all bones and sharp edges and seemed as light as a feather.
“I’m real. And I won’t vanish on you, Seoc, I promise. Let’s go.”
“Home.” He put an arm around Seoc’s shoulders and began to walk him along the bridge. “My flat isn’t too far from here.”
“What’s the matter?” Seymour asked.
“This is as far as I can go.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
The human “tapped” at thin air with the flat of his hand. It made a sound like flesh impacting stone. “Because there is a solid wall here.”