Is Love Alive?

I nod, but we don’t say anything else on the subject.  I wonder if I can see through him as surely as he sees me. 

“Koso.  The Speaker is coming.”

He stares at me, uncomprehending.  He seems so young, and I see myself in his youth.  He is white with age, white as age.  White as snow and the pages of a brand new book, but for this moment he is looking with incomprehension, and I don’t even want him to understand.  Let us not break this moment, where he can have at least one more minute of rest, one more minute of ease.  Things will change from here.

“The Speaker?  What are you talking about?”

“Maverick’s Speaker, she is coming.”

He blinks, and there is something bundled up in him that is rising to the surface now.  This will hurt him, this is hurting him.  This is the golden stake and he is the hole in which to drill. 

“How?”  His voice cracks on the single syllable.  “How do you know?”

I cannot tell whether he wants me to be telling the truth or not. 

“Yesterday,” I say slowly, fearing that he will become a child in his anger and pain, or worse, a man, “before you arrived, Isiore’s son Nicola brought me the message.  He said that Isiore wanted to talk with you, so I told him to come back today at lunch.  I meant to tell you, but you needed this rest.  I met him instead.”

Koso stands up, shedding the blanket.  His face twists up. 

“You can’t blame me, I did it for you,” I say, in a sort of desperation. 

“I don’t blame you.”

Koso’s voice is like a snake’s, and whips out with controlled power.  He doesn’t meet my eyes.  The darkness of the room is heavy now, frightening.  There is something unsafe here, and I am grappling for my sight.  Koso blames me, and I must tell him everything.

“Isiore told me the Speaker’s name- it’s Nadia.  I hadn’t known.  She comes in a week.  Others have been told, this is not only us,” my voice is rushing through, my mind sorting, remembering back to all the information Isiore gave me. “And the family, they are not what they seem.  Isiore knows of Ithan, knows that I am his brother.”

Koso’s hands twitch.  There are so many Kosos that I have not seen.  He turns completely away from me, so that I can see no part of his face. 

“Let me tell you something, Tomas.  A secret.”  I brace myself against the steel in his voice.  The Koso of this morning is gone, the man-child hiding beneath the couch blanket has, too, disappeared.  This Koso, here in a dark, heavy room with warm furniture, takes a deep, shuddering breath in and pivots to look me square in the eye.  This time, I do not flinch.  He puts a long-fingered hand atop my shoulder.  The shine in his eyes has dulled, but I feel a myriad of emotions underneath the top layer of skin.  His hand is cold, and shakes very softly.

“I will kill the Speaker for the People.”

There are no tears.  I hang my head.  Koso will be a murderer.  

The End

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