Christopher sits facing a slender young man with dark hair curling at the ends right above his shoulders and brilliant emerald eyes. The young man is dressed in a scarf and waistcoat that match his eyes, a white tunic, a black velvet jacket, and pants, paralleling Christopher’s own dusty trousers.
For a few moments, the two of them just stare at each other.
Christopher: (in a very soft voice, filled with unshed tears) I was there when you were born, watched Damian bring you forth. The sight of you made me aware of how shadows could create life, giving it other shadows. A life that could continue beyond the Door, if it could find a Door.
Leiwell: (balling his hands into fists) I suppose I should thank you for that life, although I’ve always wondered when you might choose to take it back.
Christopher: You’re not talking about yourself.
Leiwell: I don’t remember my own…birth. I’ll never forget when you gave my brothers life. (His eyes glisten.) Few memories have ever lingered with such clarity, yet it has the quality of a dream. A vivid, yet terrifying dream.
Christopher: (looking straight into Leiwell’s eyes, his own just as bright) You’re one of the most beautiful young men I’ve ever seen, yet I can hardly bear the sight of you.
Leiwell: If so, punish me. You have every right to. (digging his fingers into his palms) Just don’t take your rage out on the innocent because they happen to be precious to me.
Christopher: Have I ever shown any sign of holding Danyel and Tayel responsible for your actions?
Leiwell: No, but you hunger for them as a shadow hungers for vitality. Be warned. (He bares his teeth, drawing his pouting lips back from them.) If you try to take them from me, you’ll find yourself facing the same monster that took Damian.
Christopher: I think I might enjoy that. (Colors swim through his eyes while the pupils enlargen, spreading the darkness gathered in their centers.) There’s a certain direct simplicity in dealing with a monster. It’s the person in all his loving complexity who confuses me with mercy.
Leiwell: Mercy doesn’t confuse me. (He opens his hands, revealing palms marked with red half-moons.) You do.
Christopher: How so?
Leiwell: You look so fragile, so young and innocent, only a few years older than my brothers. You’re not lying about your innocence either. Your wonder in the face of the ordinary which others take for granted, the way you react with honest awkwardness with the worlds you encounter, all of that is completely genuine.
Christopher: I am learning about myself and wherever I find myself. As are you. As are your brothers.
Leiwell: Only I learned to create a mask for myself, reflecting back what others want to see. As did Dyvian. As did your Damian.
Christopher: Maybe the three of you were quicker studies of your worlds and those around you.
Leiwell: Or maybe we don’t have your honesty, an honesty you share with my brothers. I could love you for that honesty, if I wasn’t terrified of the darker side of you. Of the monster you’re capable of becoming, a monster no less hungry and greedy than Dyvian at his worst.
Christopher: You admit that your Dyvian is a monster?
Leiwell: It’s impossible to possess the kind of power he has and not become one.
Christopher: It’s a power that can create on a level that defies imagination, a power Damian himself once coveted.
Leiwell: I’m not sure if he still wants it. He did once, but he seems to mock it now.
Christopher: You’re certain of this?
Leiwell: (with a mocking, very Damian-like smile) No one is closer to Damian Ashelocke now than myself. Not even you.
Christopher: (slumping back in his seat) Call me a monster, yet you mock me with that truth?
Leiwell: I never said that I wasn’t a monster myself, Christopher. I’m just trying to be more than that. Are you?
Christopher: How can you even ask me that?!
Leiwell: I ask myself many things, especially about you. Once you tried very hard not to be a monster, but I wonder if you didn’t lose the will to keep trying, once you stepped through a Door back into the Shadow Forest. Other goals may well have become more important, more worth remembering.
Christopher: You think honesty will compell me to reveal those goals?
Leiwell: No. (He smiles a hard, bright smile.)
Christopher: No. (He smiles the same smile back, mirroring Leiwell’s expression.)
To be continued…