Try to find out somehow if it's safe to talk

“I need a drink, Cal. May I?”

You pose the question without lowering your gaze an inch. Cal responds in kind.

“Help yourself. I’ll take whatever you’re having.”

You quickly break the stare, standing and turning toward the liquor trolley. Your body spots the brandy and begins pouring, while your mind runs over everything you’ve deemed safe to say. Only a few seconds later than what would have sounded normal, you begin.

“Thanks. I’ve had a long weekend, and a really rough day at work. Monday mornings are the worst. Dozens of little local criminals to be dealt with, and stacks of paperwork for each one. It’s hell, I tell you.” You take the two glasses and carefully turn back to Cal. As you hand him the glass, you find his eyes again-- the safest place to look, but also the most distracting. Taking your seat across from him, you close your eyes gratefully and give the brandy a moment to relax you.

Cal speaks abruptly, as if he's suddenly given up on waiting for an appropriate time to say this.

"Edward, did you talk to your friend Joe this weekend like you said you would?"

Shock, confusion, and anger do not show themselves on your face. You had the whole weekend to prepare for surprises. You think quickly.

So he knows the name Joe. Either he already knew that Nicolas calls himself Joe, or at some point Friday night he was watching us, and heard the name. It doesn't matter. It just means he wants to talk about Nicolas in code. He wants Radovan to think Joe is a friend of mine who I said I would talk to. I can go with that.

"Well, yes. I did talk to him." Decent timing. You congratulate yourself.

"And?" Cal demands. "Does he know a cure?"

It's safe to talk about the werewolf thing? Really? Wouldn't that imply that I know about his murders? Or maybe he's not wearing the watch, we're not being monitored. Doesn't matter. Follow Cal's lead.

"He... has a hunch."

"Well what is it?!" Cal begs. He is honestly desperate for this information. He looks like he's lost all control, like he has completely forgotten that Gabrielle might walk back into the room any second now, and ask what he's so upset about. For an instant you actually believe that you might have been mistaken, that Cal might have been telling the truth the whole time. 

Cal, you realize, is an astoundingly convincing actor.

No wonder I believed him! No wonder Radovan chose him. He's perfect.

"He wouldn't tell me any of the details. He said he wants to see you in person." This response was delayed, but surely Radovan would understand you hesitating to describe werewolf cures. If he's even listening.

"See me in person! You didn't tell him about me, did you? Edward, I told you to be vague! You can't just go around telling people what I am!" Cal stands up, anxious and frustrated, and starts pacing and rubbing his forehead. 

It happened so fast. You couldn't help it. The watch was there, on his wrist. He put it right in front of his eyes where you were staring. You're already walking toward the liquor trolley with your empty glass, your back to Cal. 

I didn't look at it too long. I probably saw it as a blur when his arm was moving, then immediately stood up and turned around. That wasn't suspicious. I'm safe. It's fine. Back to the conversation... 

"I didn't tell him about you, he just figured out why I was asking those questions. It was pretty obvious I knew someone who needed help. Relax Cal, he doesn't know who you are. And he won't, unless you decide to meet him. But you'll have to, if you want any answers."

You finish pouring your second drink, and turn back to see Cal calmer but still worried. He walks closer to you, glaring into your eyes, somehow hinting at a new significance this time.

"Then you do think he's willing to help me? You don't think he'll try to turn me in, or... kill me?"

He means Nicolas. He wants to know if he can trust Nicolas.

You're on the verge of telling him what he wants to hear, when a thought occurs to you.

Cal has to meet Nicolas while he's not wearing the watch. And Nicolas said that Cal might have taken the watch off when he last talked to me, just in case he had to kill me. Maybe we can convince Radovan that this "Joe" person needs to be killed.

"Honestly, Cal... I couldn't tell."

The End

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