It was a little after breakfast that Svetlana and Kenny were paid a surprise visit. When they heard the knock on the door, Svetlana peeked through the peephole to see who it was (apparently she had done this yesterday as well to check it wasn’t Joel, who would know something was up if he saw her in Kenny’s apartment) and, surprised, told Kenny “It’s Jennifer.”
Kenny was shocked: half of him was surprised that Jennifer would still want to come to the apartment after what she had overheard him saying to Svetlana; the other half was aware of the risk he ran by allowing her to enter. Still, he told Svetlana “You talk to her; try to send her away nicely, but tell her I’m sorry.”
Svetlana nodded and went to the door. Kenny went to the kitchen and switched on the kettle, getting a mug out of the cupboard.
“Hi Jennifer,” he heard Svetlana say.
“Hi Svetlana. I know Kenny doesn’t want me here ... but it just seemed like something awful had happened to him yesterday. All I want to know is whether he’s all right or not.”
Kenny sighed, resisting the urge to walk out of the kitchen and tell Jennifer that yes, he was fine, and that he was sorry for what he had said.
“He’s fine now,” Svetlana assured her. “He doesn’t hate you, Jennifer; he’s really sorry for what he said. But he can’t talk to you at the moment.”
“Not even for a few minutes?” Jennifer asked, sounding sad. “I was certain I had annoyed or disappointed him... Are you sure he doesn’t hate me?”
“Not at all. He was just ... in a lot of pain when he came in. But I really don’t think you two should talk. It’s risky.”
“I don’t care if Susanna or Joel finds out I’ve been here,” Jennifer said. “Like I’ve said, I’m on your side. I was even thinking, that if Kenny didn’t want me to do anything active, I could try talking to my sister? It’s just ... some evidence would be useful for that: was there a report on that earthquake that happened unexpectedly?”
“You’re quite something, Jennifer. If it were up to me, I’d let you help us out.”
“But I’m not a Guardian, am I?” Jennifer asked sadly. “Kenny doesn’t think I should be allowed to make the same choices as you guys.”
“Oh... why not?” Svetlana asked, sounding a little surprised.
“I’m not entirely sure... But he thinks it’s terrible to let us have that choice.” As an afterthought, Jennifer added “He doesn’t find it so easy himself: that might be why.”
“I know... I wish he wouldn’t get so anguished about it,” Svetlana said. “It’s to prevent Chaos: surely that should be a comfort?”
“But it’s hurting people, isn’t it?” Jennifer pointed out. “Kenny’s a really caring guy and while that’s precisely the reason he chose to be a Guardian of Order, it’s a source of pain because of what the job is.”
Kenny had to walk out.
“And that’s why I don’t want you to help us.”
Svetlana turned, shocked.
Not wanting to look at Svetlana in case the Chaos levels this act would create would manifest themselves on her face, Kenner told Jennifer “You shouldn’t be exposed to that pain. I’m so sorry for what I said yesterday but the fact remains that I don’t want you to have a role on this mission.”
Jennifer, who had looked as surprised as Svetlana upon his appearance, now nodded, her expression slightly pained but understanding as well.
“Okay,” she said quietly.
Kenny clicked his fingers and a plastic bag containing a confidential report appeared on the coffee table. Looking intently at Jennifer, he said “I didn’t give you that. You overheard the content while I was speaking to someone.”
Svetlana, looking even more surprised, stepped aside to let Jennifer hurry in and pick them up. She gave Kenny a nod of acknowledgement as she did so.
“Nothing more than this, Jennifer. I mean that. If I find out you’ve been doing more than just talking to your sister, I’ll use magic to stop you. Slide the report under the door when you’ve done what you need to. And don’t mention that you’ve seen Svetlana.”
Jennifer nodded, heading for the door again.
“Goodbye, Jennifer,” he found himself saying.
“Bye, Kenny,” she said quietly, looking sad but grateful at the same time. “Thanks.”
Kenny looked at the floor. Svetlana closed the door as Jennifer left.
“6.2, not bad for someone in love,” she said, impressed. Kenny looked up. Svetlana was regarding a black feather: one of her own he presumed.
“You don’t know how much I wanted to hug her,” Kenny said, heading back to the kitchen to collect his tea.
“But you didn’t. That’s the main thing.”
“I suppose so.” Kenny brought his tea into the living room. “D’you think I did too much?” he asked anxiously. “Giving her that report on the earthquake the Order thinks Joel and Susanna caused?”
“No, I think that was perfect,” Svetlana said sincerely.
“I still feel guilty. She’s right: I don’t think humans should be given the same choices as Guardians.”
“Why not?” Svetlana asked.
“Because it hurts, Svetlana. And if it hurts us, the external force, how much would it hurt them, creating rifts between each other? Isn’t it enough that they already do that in spite, for them to suddenly believe that it will stave off the end of the world? Forget falling in love, I don’t believe that humans should know about us at all. Let them think they make their own destiny, for better or for worse. Don’t take that out of their hands.”
“You’re contradicting yourself: saying ‘Let them make their own destiny’ but ‘Don’t let them have the same choices as us’.”
“Their own destiny doesn’t have to be Guardianship. And you know that there are only two real paths for us- how much choice is that? They’re so much better off not knowing about Chaos and Guardians. They can live out their hopes and dreams while thinking that the bad stuff that happens in the world just happens: no external motivation, no double-sided Fate... well, maybe they’ll still think that but it won’t be concretised for them: they won’t be forced to believe it.”
“And this is why you wanted to wipe Jennifer’s mind, isn’t it?” Svetlana asked, looking quietly awestruck despite herself. “Because you wanted to spare her from the obligations: you wanted to spare her from Duty.”
“Y for the yawning chasm braved... D for the Duty - the choice we make.”
“I see what you mean.” She walked over to the window in the living room and gazed outside, though Kenny got the sense she wasn’t really paying attention to the view. “Kenner,” she said softly, “d’you think I’m being immature by not choosing one or the other?”
Kenny was startled by the question.
“What d’you mean? Why would you think that?”
Svetlana turned halfway to look at him.
“Well, ... you’re so inspirational. And you’re fully a Guardian of Order. And Joel’s silly, and he’s fully a Guardian Angel. So where does being both put me?”
“Not all Guardian Angels are silly,” Kenny told her, smiling. “I think you should be whatever you like.”
“But ... it’s like you said. I’m almost deceiving the humans I do help because then I turn around and make them sad.”
“Lana, I was in pain last night; I really didn’t mean what I said. If it makes you feel better after you’ve hurt a human to make another one happy, surely that’s a good thing? It means you’re less conflicted.”
“But then you say you’d be more conflicted.”
“But that’s just me, Lana. I ... I need to know I’m just a Guardian of Order because of how difficult that choice was for me. And ... truth be told, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to make humans happy.” He looked at the floor and very quietly said “Not after causing their deaths.”
“Then why am I?”
Kenny looked up.
“Because you’re strong. Strong and optimistic. It’s a good thing not to be conflicted, Lana. And it’s great that you’re not always making people miserable. I can see why some people would think it was easier to be both than just one or the other.”
Svetlana walked over and hugged him.
“Thanks, Kenner. That means a lot to me.”
Kenny hugged her back.