Three – Acute Mania
"You haven't stopped by in a long time, Brother. You used to visit me nearly every day."
"I'm sorry. My ministerial duties have kept me busy," Silus said. They stood in Edgar's workroom, cluttered with scientific instruments. Glass bottles and tubes glinted faintly in the sunlight.
"You shouldn't let those things prevent you from doing the important things, Silus," Edgar said, a hint of playfulness in his voice. He bent over some delicate instrument, fiddling with a switch, gently calibrating.
"The Ministerium is our most important work, Edgar," Silus replied somberly.
Edgar half laughed. "I know, I know, you don't need to lecture me. Always the devoted brother, keeping his errant charge on the straight and narrow. No need to be so serious, Silus."
A hint of a smile crept to Silus's face. He watched contentedly as his brother continued his work, engrossed in the charts and figures on a stack of papers.
"I did have a reason for coming here, Edgar," he said finally.
"Well? Tell me."
The briefest pause.
"Our mother died this morning."
Edgar's back was turned to him as he said it. He could not gauge his reaction, but he thought, or sensed, that Edgar's spine stiffened.
"She must have been old," Edgar said, his voice strangely flat.
"No. Not very."
"Did you see her, Silus?" Edgar said, turning suddenly, a paper clutched in his hand, a look of what was almost pathetic anxiety on his face.
"Yes. I went to the morgue before coming here."
"No, that's not what I mean. I mean before. Before she died. When we were younger…." Edgar seemed to stare at nothing.
Silus bowed his head. He had never told anyone. It was discouraged in the Brotherhood, if not outright forbidden. Brothers were not expected to remember their birth families. They were to be forgotten, taken away from infancy. Such had been Edgar's experience, but not Silus's.
"I could not forget her, Edgar. The Church…the Church wants us to, but I could not abandon her. I watched over her, at times."
"Yes, that's something you would do, isn't it?" Edgar said. Bitterly. "It doesn't matter now. I never saw her, except the once. I don't even remember what she looked like." He sat down behind his desk, rifling through papers.
Silus looked down at his brother, pain in his eyes.
"You were always the cleverer of us, Edgar."
"Yes, and you were the stronger." It came out more spitefully than he meant. He paused, stopping his pen in mid-sentence. He looked ashamed of himself, and compassionate, like his old self.
"I'm sorry, Silus."
There were many things to apologize for, but Silus did not care which this was meant for. The half-smile crept up; it seemed he could do no better. He nodded slightly, acknowledging the act of contrition. Edgar seemed content to go back to his work, and although Silus felt there was more to be said, he let the matter go.
He settled himself down on an unoccupied chair, as Edgar scribbled away at his notes, both lost in thought.
"Are you still working with Brother Clement?" Silus asked, breaking the silence.
"Yes. Of course. This is for him now. We're researching--well, we're researching."
Silus was disturbed by this vague answer, more than he liked to admit. He walked to Edgar's desk, silently, and peered at the papers littering the surface.
"Eclampsy? Erythroblastosis? What is this?"
Edgar reacted violently. He snatched the papers from Silus's view, looking up at him angrily, teeth showing beneath his lip.
"You oughtn't to look at that, Silus. This is Department of Science business," he said.
"I did not know your department was so secretive. What is so confidential about researching unborn children?" Silus said, taken aback by his hostility.
"You know things are changing. There are scarcely any Brothers being born nowadays; the last woman to bear a Brother in this city in almost a decade is under observation by the Church. The Church is taking matters into its own hands," he said, stashing away his papers, apparently not trusting Silus to keep his distance.
"And you are leading the project," Silus said.
"Don't look at me like that Silus. This is what I am called to do."
Silus looked out the large windows, brightly lit by the sun, shaded by the fog of the city. He could hear the tiny hum of life, movement, emotion, humanity, in those streets below. It felt so distant, strange and foreign, but powerful, more real somehow than his own life in this stone tower, high up in the sunlight and fog.
"Is she under observation here?" he said finally.
Edgar paused. "We can't give out that kind of information. This research is important, vital to our continuance. No one can know these things."
Silus's eyes were like closed shutters. "Do you ever think… ever wonder what it's like for them? For the mothers to have their children ripped from them? To be forgotten? Are we right to do this?"
"It's necessary," Edgar said. He did not look at his brother.
"Yes. Necessary," Silus repeated, the word dark on his tongue.
"I know what you're thinking, Silus." Edgar joined him in watching through the windows. The streets below were filled with tiny colored smudges, crawling like ants. "But she's not our mother. What happened to you…. Well, it's unfortunate, but it's the past."
Silus turned away from the windows and looked his brother in the eyes.
"I'm sorry for you, Edgar. I'm sorry you never knew her."
Silus saw his jaw clench, felt the emotion behind the straight face, but Edgar said nothing. He turned away, back to his instruments, again at work for the Brotherhood.
"I'll leave you to your research, Brother," Silus said. There was no response. Silus crossed the room to the door, paused on the threshold, and walked out.
Formal Response of the Committee for the Regulation of Mentorships
To: Junior Brother Silus
Concerning your request of November 12 for the removal of Senior Brother Clement, MP, Magisterium Official, from his duties as Mentor to Junior Brother Edgar, the Committee has reviewed the circumstances and arguments brought up by the addressed party. After careful deliberation, the Committee has decided not to fulfill the applicant's request. Due in part to the applicant's unusual relationship with Brother Edgar, as his brother by birth, and more particularly because of the applicant's junior status and lack of experience within the Brotherhood, the members of the Committee feel the most prudent action to be to allow Brother Clement continued Mentor status.
Additionally, we note that the applicant has shown a certain lack of deference for senior members of the Brotherhood, concerning their ability to choose novitiates in the most judicious method with trust for their higher experience. The Committee expresses its disapproval for such presumptive conduct.
We trust the mater is satisfactorily resolved for all parties involved.
Sr. Brother Ignatius, Head of the Committee
A/N: There we go, completed story. I have a few short drabbles that I may also post, and I hope my few readers enjoyed my first foray into Perfect Creature fanfiction.