While Svetlana was out, Kenny went to the local newsagent’s to buy some of the things she liked (full fat milk, eggs and bacon) as well as a newspaper for himself. He returned to the apartment and had just finished putting away the food when there was a knock on the door.
Slightly mystified since he figured Lana shouldn’t be back yet, Kenny went to open it.
On the other side of the door stood a very menacing-looking Joel.
“Hi there,” he said coolly. “Care to explain why a certain Jennifer Towner no longer has any memory of you?”
Irritated, Kenny replied “No, I will not reverse it. Isn’t it bad enough that you’re dating a human, Joel? Picking a fight will cause more, not less, Chaos.”
“I thought we agreed that you’d leave her memories be,” Joel said icily. “If anyone, it’s you picking a fight.”
“Joel, you know very well that I couldn’t have done that...”
“Does it give you pleasure?” Joel interrupted. “To mess about with humans like they’re toys? You Guardians of Order are so damn up yourselves. I hope they find out what you do to them and they rebel. I hope they make you feel ashamed.”
“Mm-hm, and then we’ll stop, and then there’ll be an apocalypse. Let’s take a guess... they’ll have, I don’t know, a decade of Order-less Bliss and then every single one of them will die. Is that what you really want, Joel? Because if it is, you’re more sick than you say I am.”
Joel looked angry.
“You don’t have to kill them!”
“We have to do whatever we think will lead to balance. If that involves killing them, it involves killing them. I’m sorry, Joel, but that’s the way it goes.”
“You’re all murderers, every single one of you! You know, I was talking to another Guardian today - she’d just arrived in town, and we were talking about how cold, how cruel, how detached you have to be to kill a human.”
Kenny had to bite down on a smile at that. ‘Oh, Lana, you’re such a great actress,’ he thought.
“Well, you can be happy in the knowledge that you’re not the only one who hates us, can’t you?”
“All of us hate you,” Joel said smugly. “There’s nothing likeable about a murderer. You’re just a bunch of loners. Tell me, is it hard to make friends when you both know you kill people?”
“Actually, it gives us common ground,” Kenny said coldly, not serious, but fed up of Joel’s taunting. “We talk about tactics and such.”
“I hope your consciences murder you.” Turning away, he stalked off. “By the way,” he called, “there’s no rule against me putting her memories back.”
“You go do that,” Kenny shouted back. “She consented for me to meet up with her again. Your reversal would be illegal.”
Joel showed no sign of hearing as he disappeared.
Kenny frowned slightly. At the end... it hadn’t been consensual. Meaning that there was a chance Joel could get away with it, i.e., nobody would step in to re-reverse the process and order Joel to leave it like that. But he couldn’t have Jennifer remember him... It was too dangerous. The whole mission would be compromised. Kenny made a split-second decision and appeared outside the building just as Joel was leaving. In a flash he had him pinned against the building and had created an invisibility-inaudibility bubble around them so that no passer by would notice.
“What the...? Get off me, jerk!” Joel shouted.
“You can’t reverse Jennifer’s mind-wipe,” Kenny told him. “I’m sorry for what I said - about Guardians of Order sharing tactics: that was immature of me. We do care about humans. And if you care about Jennifer, you won’t reverse the mind-wipe.”
Joel looked confused.
“What? Why? I don’t understand why this means so much to you. All it is is one girl’s memories. What harm does that do in the great scheme of thing?”
“A lot. Trust me.”
Joel raised an eyebrow.
“Fat chance of that.”
Kenny rolled his eyes.
“Oh, will you just get over yourself! I thought you liked humans.”
“Which is precisely why I want to reverse the mind-wipe: it’s not fair.”
“It’s for the best,” Kenny insisted.
Joel looked suspicious.
“Did you do something to her while she was under your power?”
“No, it’s not that,” Kenny said crossly. “Can you not just let it be?”
“Why should I if you won’t even bother to tell me? Let go of me and go back to whatever you were doing before.”
“It’ll cause Chaos,” Kenny said desperately. “Please, Joel. Don’t you care at all? What’s the point in making humans happy if you’re just going to let Chaos levels get out of hand?! Even a human’s Guardian can’t be blasé about Chaos.”
Joel was frowning.
“Why should it cause Chaos...?” His expression became calculative.
Kenny was frustrated.
“Never mind that; just swear you won’t put her memories back.”
Joel suddenly looked shocked.
“Oh wow.” He laughed. “I don’t believe it.”
Realising that Joel had worked it out, Kenny turned the bubble into one he couldn’t leave, let go and sat down.
“We’re going to stay here till you swear, mate. I don’t care how long that takes. I’ve got nowhere to be.”
Joel didn’t seem to care. He was looking at Kenny as if he saw him in a completely new light.
“You’re... interested in her, aren’t you? Something happened between you and Jennifer and if I reverse the mind-wipe, it might happen again?”
Kenny made no comment, staring fixedly at the ground.
“Oh my goodness... It’s so highly ironic ... and yet... and yet.” Kenny looked to see that Joel was frowning in deep thought. “If I can convince a Guardian of Order that it’s not dangerous, ... you’ll stop trying to split me and Susanna up.”
“But it is dangerous,” Kenny said, exasperated.
Joel met his gaze directly.
“No, Kenny, it’s not. You haven’t spent a lot of time with Jennifer so you probably don’t know this but ... love is beautiful and it’s most certainly a creative rather than a destructive force. There’s no way it could cause Chaos.”
“You are a stupid idealist,” Kenny almost shouted. “Why are you ignoring the evidence? Did you think I’d have been sent here if there wasn’t something wrong? And I told you: you two caused a Chaos level of 7.2...”
“It wasn’t us,” Joel insisted. “Kenny, I think we should visit Jennifer. We can undo her mind-wipe and you can see for yourself that there’s nothing wrong with a relationship between you and her. Come on, mate; don’t you want that?”
Kenny did want that, but that was beside the point.
“Joel, I’m not entering a relationship with a human. Jennifer would probably refuse too.”
Joel folded his arms.
“You’re a coward.”
“I’m not a coward, I’m being sensible. Now swear you won’t reverse the mind-wipe and you and I can both get on with our lives.”
“And you’ll keep trying to split me and Susanna up,” he pointed out. “Now why would I go and let you do that? Tell you what, decommission and I’ll promise not to reverse Jennifer’s mind-wipe.”
Kenny couldn’t let Joel and Susanna go on being together. He believed so strongly that their being together was a bad thing that he knew in this moment that either he and Joel would have to stay in the bubble forever or he would have to concede to Joel’s demands.
Frustrated he burst the bubble.
“Fine, go on courting that human! Don’t come running to me when she dies in an earthquake you caused.”
Furious, Joel kicked him in the shins.
“Don’t you dare talk about Susanna like that!”
“You idiot!” Kenny cried, shocked by Joel’s violence. “Don’t cause more Chaos levels for goodness’ sake!”
Kenny teleported himself back into the flat before Joel could beat him up. He paced the room angrily, first, because Joel’s kick had hurt, secondly, because Joel was a stubborn fool who wouldn’t see sense and thirdly because Joel was going to reverse Jennifer’s mind-wipe and put her back into that awful situation where she couldn’t decide whether she was on her sister’s side or his, not to mention where she might try to approach him and unwittingly risk creating high Chaos levels. Everything was Joel’s fault. Kenny wished he had enough to charge him with so that he would end up in prison, out of everyone’s way. Did he think this was a game to Kenny?