"What do you mean?"
James though for a moment, then smiled. "What were you doing on the side of the road?"
Will placed his arm over his stomach, a familiar pain burning on the surface of his skin. "I... I am a drifter who simply lost his way."
James tilted his head. "oh really?"
Will nodded slowly, his eyes focused on his table top. "i don't mean to be a burden. I can gather my things and be out of you hair in a matter of minutes."
James sat back in his chair, a when Will looked up, he made a glance directly at his eyes and found a pair of dusk blue pools staring at him. James gave Will a comforting smile as he spoke, "You aren't a burden, Will. My friend and I are always happy to meet people, even if it is only for a moment. You are welcome to stay and rest until you are fit to travel again."
Will tried to look James in the eye, but the skin on his stomach burned again, and he kept his eyes fixed on the table. "T-that's very... generous of you, sir, but.... i don't feel comfortable staying here, in this arrangement."
James blinked as Will explained further. "i just know that i would become a burden should i stay any longer. i'm very grateful for your hospitality, but i really do need to leave."
James watched as Will stood and to looked around. "You aren't a burden, Will. i've already told yo--"
"Do you know where my things are?"
James stared at his unwilling guest a moment before he, too, stood up and moved out of the kitchen and towards the hallway closet. Will waited a moment, then hesitantly sat back down, looking back out the window. Cold, stale lament overcame, and he began to feel a painful shudder wash over him. I wish i didn't have to leave, He thought to himself. I wish I could stay here, even for a little while.
Will watched the wind gently comb through the fields stretched out from the windowsill. They reminded him of the ones back home. The color was a little different; these fields hadn't yet turned yellow with the oncoming fall as the ones back home had. The games the children played in the fields often made his parents--
You don't know what you are talking about!
Will froze, the old fear still fresh in his mind, its power to still cripple Will surprised him. Will soon found himself rushing back, back to that day when he made his mistake, when he ever muttered witness to tha--
How could you do this to us?! You gone and done the unthinkable! Fix this!
Will clawed his fingertips across his lower abdomen, his stubby fingernails trying to rip the unspeakable from him. Slowly, deeply he dug, trying to remove all of his skin at once.
I'm trying, I'm trying, Dad, but i can't! I can't! I'm sorry, Mom, I'm sorry!
Yes you can! Do it right now! You make me Sick! FIx It Now!
A overwhelming frustration and hopelessness washed over him. Defeated and sore, Will collapsed back into his chair, his face hot with tears, and stale anger. Overcome by old familiar failure, Will withdrew into himself, shaking and releasing seemingly useless and feeble cries to be freed from the heavy burden ever present and ominous about his entire being. It was no consolation to him that the Initiator had himself placed this burden on him.
When James came out with Will's bag and hat, he stopped. James simply stared at the sight of the silently weeping boy at his table, head down on the desk and shorthanded breaths that rocked his body. James quietly set the bag and hat down and moved towards the mournful figure as the sun began to touch the horizon. He didn't pull up a chair, but squatted down next to him, and tapped him on the shoulder.
Will turned towards him, and James saw the embarrassment on his face from being discovered. James watched his elusive gaze with concern as Will spoke in a barely audible voice.
"Can I please stay the night?...I have to figure out where i'm going to go."
James watched the eyes for a second before answering. An earthy hazel, they darted in avoidance from him, as if acting in shame. James then realized that The Director had delivered to him an orphan, and James found that he couldn't say no.
"Of course, Will," James whispered consolingly, rubbing the young one's back in comfort. "You are welcome here."
Will's eyes met James for the first time, and Will saw something that contradicted what he had known before. The eyes that James had held no disgust or unhappiness. They had not anger or annoyance, nor apathy it's opposite, over-concern one puts one to hide their true feelings about a matter, but instead showed a profound candor and belief in the importance of the now, and its issue.
The sound of the opening door broke the two away from each other, and Will found himself standing up in anticipation. James moved towards the doorway and out of sight. "Hey, Sophie!" He greeted, and as Will began to follow him, he saw him embrace what looked to be a frail girl with reddish hair and a basket of groceries. As James pulled away, she laid her eyes on Will, and Will almost backed away at how unwavering her gaze was.
Sophie smiled and wrapped his arms around him unabashedly. "Hello!" She smiled.