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He planned it out so well. He knew what he was going to do exactly. He spent so much /time/, carefully marking and remarking, studying, thinking, waiting--so many days and nights trying to fit it together precisely.

"You," the others said, "are wasting too much time on this. You know you are. Don't deny it. We know that there are things to be done and battles to fight, and here you are."

"No," said Florian. "He is doing very well. Leave him to it."

Zara frowned.

Justin protested.

Rina laughed.

Luther shook his head.

"I am doing very well," he argued to them. "You heard Florian. Leave me to my work!"

He knew how perfect it would be. It would be a thing of beauty, a paragon, a jewel, a remarkable and masterful expression of joy. He knew how amazed they would be when they finally saw it.

"You," they insisted, "could at least help us. We're all working. You just sit there."

"Shhh," said Florian. "I want to watch him."

Zara rolled her eyes.

Justin looked away.

Rina smiled.

Luther said he had other things he needed to do.

"You are not accepting me!" he called after him. "Wait until I'm done!"

He went over it so many times. He was not used to reading and rereading his work, because he knew how good it was to begin with, but this time he corrected things with the utmost care. He worked long into the night. At last, finally, it was done.

"You," the others told him, "certainly took long enough. Now that you're done, do you intend to show us?"

"Yes," said Florian. "Give it to them first."

Zara snorted.

Justin looked bewildered.

Rina coughed wildly.

Luther had already left.

"None of you understands my work!" he announced loudly. "I shall show Florian!"

When even Florian handed it back to him with a half-bemused, half-amused expression, he went upstairs sulking, and was accosted by the new young man.

"Show me," said De Roth.

So he did. He sat quietly and listened to the things that were wrong, or rather the things that could be better, for nearly an hour. When at last De Roth was finished, he paused, went over his work again, and--for the first time in his rather short career--Stock took constructive criticism on his poetry.