Jenny: The White Things

Gaius approached him on his own as they finished breakfast and began to depart. With a little cast-away gesture, he said, "I am wanting to take another look at those stitches. Not that it matters..."

"Not that it matters," replied Artos, rising. But he was grateful. Something must have shown in his face, though he had shoved down the discomfort that came throbbing up his leg as he moved it, and Gaius must have caught it.

They quit the atrium and went through the passageways to his room and, Gaius having shut the door, Artos bared his leg to the surgeon's perusal. He thought it should be red and angry, but it had not changed. The stitching held firm, though the probing hurt.

"How does it feel?" asked Gaius.

Artos showed his dog-teeth. "Like a pack of bees is inside it. It feels angry."

The surgeon mused, "It is not looking angry..." Then he rocked back on his heels and frowned thoughtfully. For a moment neither said a word; Artos sat with his arms across his knees, Gaius idly fingering the hem of his own tunic. "You were seeing something earlier," Gaius said finally. "What was it?"

The young man dropped his gaze to the even stitching in his leg, feeling the pain but not the leg, looking at it as though at someone else. "It was more feeling than seeing," he replied slowly. "And even then, I don't know what I was feeling. It was the closest I have ever come to panic in my life, but it was not my panic. It was as though I were looking in the Guttersnipe's face after my uncle came home wounded. Like that, seeing the fear of her whole world crumbling to pieces in her eyes."

Gaius' mouth twisted into thoughtful patterns. Then, as he let out a sudden laugh, Artos demanded, "What?"

The other shook his head. "It is that I derive some comfort out of that. It is someone else's panic. Perhaps we will not all die. I do not know. It is a White Thing, and who ever knows how the White Things work?"

"Give me my breeches," said Artos.

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