Archard calls Sara with a surprising offer. Will she go with him?
She was reading the ongoing news reports about the 9/11 incident and wondering how on earth the country would ever recover. It had been horrific and everyone she knew had been madly running around trying to determine if friends and relatives were still alive.
She hadn't seen Archard since it happened. She wondered if he ever regretted his choice in life. He had hardly been home since and he must be exhausted. He rarely spoke but now it was like there was only her and his huge bird living there. The bird watched her all the time and she felt like an intruder at times but she reminded herself that Archard had wanted her there. It was natural that the animal feel pushed out in this kind of situation and to be fair she didn't know that humanity was falling flat on it's face. On the grand scale of things Cheya's main issue was to get her tea and see her Dad.
Sara mused over what had happened in the last few months. Archard had started off being a nice dream and then rapidly turned into a nightmare when she'd been unfortunate to go into his office. Then he confused her further with his mixed signals when he was kind to her and took her back home. The call to him when the power cut happened was still in her mind because it was so unlike her.
She'd ended up confiding to her friend only the week before that living with him was such a strange experience. Archard was often out of the home and always dressed to perfection. She never saw him looking anything but his best and Jamie had asked her whether he was gay or whether he was just a wannabe peacock. Either way the two girls had come to the conclusion that they would childishly start his secret fan club and be the only two members. This served to make it more absurd because Jamie had only seen a photo of him taken while he was working late one night with reading glasses on and looking very tired.
She was musing over whether she'd ever see him again when the phone rang on her desk and she was brought back to the real world.
"Konnichiwa." Archard's slightly more cheerful voice came over the phone. "Wondered what you were doing in three weeks time?"
"Er... Hi Archard." She pulled a diary off the side. "Working."
"Can you get a couple of weeks off?"
"I guess so. Do you want to tell me why?"
"Not really." He said sounding blunter than he meant. "Have you got a passport?"
"Yes, now really what's going on?" She asked again feeling miffed he knew all the answers and she knew nothing.
"That's all I needed." He put the phone down.
Sara grumbled and moaned aloud for a moment. On the very few occasions they had talked on the phone there had been a situation that annoyed her. He never said goodbye and he never warned her if the phone was going down. One day, she grumbled, one day she'd tell him.
Apartment Friday 10.17.03 Archard and Sara.
"Are you packed and ready?" He asked as he came through the door throwing his files to one side and going through the usual ritual of throwing his gym and work clothes into the washer.
She watched him with a little amusement as he unloaded the pager, palm, mobiles and car keys into their little space. Cheya flew to him and looked at him with expectancy as he found some seeds from his top jacket pocket and gave her some loving care. Sara sighed; if he could just give her a little of that she'd be happy but it was like she wasn't even considered to be female to him. She was just another body in the building to him she was sure of it. He headed to get changed and then came out an hour later smelling and looking wonderful. He then headed to the kitchen and threw out all the perishables and looked at her with a smile.
"Fancy eating out? I could do without cleaning before we go tomorrow." He asked and then picked up his wallet.
She didn't argue with the prospect of a meal out and they headed to the Italian that he'd picked. There was a nice little place outside of the main streets and as he pulled into the car park she checked her lipstick. The phone rang from the cradle and as he closed off the stereo and other additions he answered the phone. It was to his private one and it flashed up with his sisters' number.
"Archard," he looked at the ID, "hey sis what's up? Mom having a mental about me again for some reason?"
"Not quite Asha, but you may wish to ring Daddy. He said that you were going to Japan and he wanted to speak to you about it. He wants to know if you are planning to pick up that boy." There was a cold silence as she waited for him to reply. Sara kept quiet as the conversation filtered through the speakers. "Asha, please answer me. Going back there is so dangerous and what if they realise that it is you? We don't want you in trouble again."
"Coreena, you can tell Dad he's got no reason to be worried. If I need him no doubt I will call him and he can give me the 'I told you' speech. I am kinda old enough and stupid enough to look after myself." He told her and flipped the phone off.
Sara wanted to ask about it but she got a look from him that warned her off. In the end she tried to forget it. If it was likely to affect her she was sure he might say something and besides he was so private there was just no way of knowing how he'd react to her questions. In the end she got out of the car and stood in the car park.
"Archard you look lovely." She smiled trying to ease the tension. "Perhaps we can do this again when I can afford to treat you?" She didn't expect an answer so she wandered into the bar as he locked up the car. She ordered herself a white wine and he wandered in behind her.
They got their table and he shoved all his phones onto the side and looked through the menu. The waiter took their orders and she noted that he had ordered a minimum amount. She was suddenly feeling a little foolish for thinking it was going to be anything more than an excuse to save him any mess in his apartment.
He was always so stone-faced and stoic. She knew that his job was going to be very demanding but it didn't stop her wondering why he was so harsh about the world. She thought everyone should look at the good in their life but he seemed fixed on the bad. Whatever that was at any rate. She wasn't going to pry. He seemed the type to scold for that sort of behaviour. In the end the silence was too much as he kept staring at the phone and then absently poking at the pasta and sauce in front of him. She ate most of hers before calling over the waiter and then getting the bill.
He hadn't even noticed she had left as he tried to replay the conversation and thought about what Coreena has said to him. She was of course right but what the hell should he care about that for? When he came back injured from Japan no one had wanted to know. In fact his mother had been so embarrassed by him that she had refused to talk to him for a good six months. It was this behaviour that had started him down his present course.
Archard wasn't even aware Sara had paid and was stood beside him. He was thinking about why they had bothered with him in the first place. He kept the fact that he was adopted secret because he had decided from the day that he found out that really, there was no point in finding his parents. They hadn't wanted him and they hadn't even given him a name. He had been dumped so if they hadn't wanted him who would?
"Come on Archard." She smiled warmly at him and hoped it didn't look patronising. "I am a little tired and need the sleep for the long flight. If we just head home now would you mind?" Sara had decided it would be safer.
"Okay." He nodded and got into the car. He looked at the keys for what seemed forever before starting the engine and looking at the night sky.
"Archard." She wanted to touch him and give him comfort. She moved her hand towards his shoulder but he flinched like she would burn him and drove away as she scrambled to get comfortable.