Alex looked around. Trees. Dark trees, and dark spaces between the trees. He certainly couldn't see anyone other than his two companions.
"Aristide!" Jack called out again.
Alex wished that he would stop trying so they could go back home. He didn't know if this mysterious man would actually be able to help them. He didn't care. But Jack had insisted.
"Jack, he isn't here," said Vera. "Let's just leave."
"He promised me he'd be here." Jack growled. "Leave if you want to. I'm staying."
Alex looked at Vera, hoping she would agree to that suggestion. She glanced back at him. Her eyes reflected the moon. They were a deep green... and so bright in contrast with the darkness around them. Again, she spoke to Jack.
"You haven't told us anything. You say he can do amazing things for us, but what can he do? And why is he willing to help us? We do need help; I'll do almost anything for it... But you've got to tell me everything you know about this man!"
"He is powerful," Jack replied without looking at her. "And he will make us powerful. I don't know how, or why."
Alex sensed the lie. He had known that Jack was hiding something, since the first time he told them about Aristide. How well he knew his best friend! He could tell that Jack was sincerely clueless as to how this man would give them "power." But there was something about the way Jack said "or why" that was clearly dishonest. Aristide must have asked something from him. He must have given him a price. But what could be asked of Jack that he wouldn't share with his best friends? Alex had agreed to come here, in hopes that they would meet this Aristide, and find out what he wanted from them.
But Alex had seen the change in Jack as they wandered through the woods searching for the rendezvous. Jack became broody, and would only speak when they questioned him. And when he did speak, he seemed sharp and irritable. He was nervous. Scared.
Fear was not something Alex was accustomed to seeing on Jack's face. He regretted coming here. He wanted nothing more than to turn around, and never mention Aristide again. Besides, they didn't need his help as much as Jack and Vera believed they did.
"Jack Malinique. Is that you?"
The voice was exactly as Alex had imagined it. Low, smooth... a truly beautiful voice. Its source was barely visable in the distance. He wore no color; he blended marvelously with the darkness. Alex felt a chill as he realized that the man might well have been standing there watching them for a long time.
"Aristide." Jack answered.