"Everybody I love dies!.." - April was nearly crying. She could hardly stop her tears . "Everybody I... Love..." She was amazed by her own words. She sighed, understanding that there was nothing she could do about it, turned back and went to the exit. It was still hard to believe that Cortez was gone, hard to believe that they were both gone, so easily... It was so unlikely. Ok, so the watch stopped, but did that mean Cortez was dead? It wasn't working when she first got it from Westhouse, but Cortez was fine. Maybe, he lost contact with it somehow... But she was too tired to think about it now. And there was no time, she had to act fast. The Balance was collapsing.
April opened the container, retrieving the stone disc and went down by elevator, and didn't forget to swear at poor Jerry, shocking him with her vulgar words.
There was no sign of them outside. Everything looked normal. They had simply disappeared. "The mother also disappeared when she died!.." - Remembered April and took a deep breath. So they were gone... He was gone... Forever...
Now there was only one thing she needed to do, to complete her mission, on her own!..
The restauraunt was fool of people. The two men ordered the table in the corner and sat there, seperatly from others. They began talking quietly, but kept smiling so joyfully, apparently they were in an exceptionally good mood.
"I must say, when you offered me that, I thought you were crazy - Began the one who seemed older "But now I'm sure you really are... how do they say it... 'out there'!.."
They laughed a bit too loud, but lowered their voices as soon as they noticed several eyes looking at them.
"Let's avoid any unneeded attention!.." said the other one "All right, it is crazy, but you must admit it, it's a lot more fun than sitting here, pretending a normal person, no?
"All right, all right! I give up! You were right! I've never had so much fun... You know which was the funniest moment?"
"No, which one?"
"When she said: 'Everybody I... love'." He tried to imitate her voice "They couldn't help laughing, both were trying to be as quiet as possible, so they hid their faces with their hands, but couldn't stop chuckling.
"Oh, I've got a stomach-ache from laughing, brother!.." Said the elder and leaned against the chair. "You really know how to spoof people, don't you... Cortez!" The last word he also said imitating April's sobbing voice. Cortez laughed so hard, he had to wipe tears off his eyes.
"Oh yes! What else can I do during these thousands of years of my boring existance? The medieval centuries are gone, and even then it was so hard to entertain myself with burning the fields, hiding treasure, kidnapping young women... Oh, wait... The last part was not so bad!.." He smiled cunningly.
"You've always been a womanizer, brother!"
"No, I'm just bored!" said Cortez "So, Mr. McAllen, what do you suggest to do next? Shall we let her to go till the end of the scenario?"
"Why not? She's a funny one. I'd like to see her after she completes her... uh... mission." They both chuckled again.
"The humans are so silly! But it's always fun to play a trick on them. You know," Cortez made a false pitying face "I almost feel sorry for her..."
McAlen gave him a rather cunning look. "Yes," he said slowly after a short while "almost..."
"Almost..." repeated Cortez, putting an ephasis on the word. They looked at each other and let out another joyful laughter.
"I want to make a toast" announced McAlen, and raised his wine glass. "For you and your imagination. Blessed be your sly head which always makes me smile!"
"And I want to raise the toast for humanity, brother!" Answered Cortez, "Because without them the life would be sooooo boring!"
They hushed up for a few moments, enjoying fine wine. Soon McAlen asked:
"So, what plans do you have for future? Do you plan anything regarding our beloved Ms. Ryan?"
Cortez fell in his thoughts for a while. "I don't even know, I haven't decided yet..."
"You should decide quickly. April will end this "path" of hers soon enough... I think, she's already in the Guardian's realm..."
"Actually, I was thinking about leaving her alone for a while. She'll be a bit depressed when she gets out of there."
"Depressed? Well... Life is not easy..."
"Wait, I have an idea!" suddenly Cortez sounded anxious, he put his hnd in his pocket and took a mobile phone out.
"I'll have to give you a new one," McAllen noted "that is rather old!.."
"It's perfectly suitable for an old eccentric like myself!" he answered, dialing the number. "Hey! Guess who's calling!"
"You always recognize me, don't you?"
"I have a good suggestion for you. I think I know what to do with that boy,"
"You know, the blue-eyed goofy-faced kid...Argh! Don't you remember that people in Arcadia? I think I've told you about them, didn't I?
"I don't remember their name... Well, you know... They are total fanatics, and they worship to some kind of a Goddess, they like running around killing people for having different religions and then they wonder why they're not too popular, or... Yeah, that's them."
"Exactly, that's the boy, so make sure he ends up in 'good hands', do you know what I mean?"
"No, not yet. It'll take some years. Don't worry, I'll take care of him myself... Well, not myself, but... I'll keep my eyes on him."
"Always nice to talk to you!"
He hung up. McAllen was looking at him interested. "As I understand, you've already planned something!"
"Yes, you'll love it. I'm going to add some romance in this play!" With these words he winked.
"Just don't make a soap opera here, you'll ruin a lot of fine work."
"How can you say that?!" Cortez frowned "Do you really think I'll be able to spoil everything? I'm just adding some more colours to the painting, that's all."
"All right, you know better than me!" He paused. "I... I was thinking... May I take a part in it?"
"If you have anything to offer..."
"I have!" McAllen took his own phone and dialed the number. Cortez was watching at him, a smile was tugging at the corners of his mouth, he was already enjoying the story they were making. Finally McAllen spoke with extremely sweet voice:
"How are you sweety!"
"Yes, I know you're bored."
"I'm sorry, I have never asked how did it go with Rachel? Did you..." He laughed. "You're such a clever girl... Listen Faith! I think I'll have a nice job for you! Interested?"
"No, honey! A couple of years... Or a bit more... But don't worry!"
"I'll let you know. Call me this evening, I'll give you all the details!.. Hey, wait a second!.. Don't pull the Rachel-thing on me!"
"Kiss you! Bye!"
Cortez didn't look very pleased. "Why do you always need to get the creeps involved? He said with obvious dissatisfaction. McAllen looked outraged.
"Creeps? Hold your tongue! Faith is a very cute little girl... When she wants to be."
"I don't see what will she do with April, though..."
"Not her, brother... I'm adding another new player."
"Really? Who's that?"
"Well... There's this really useless doll on my list of to-be-used people, I honestly don't know how she ended up there, but... I think it will be funny to see what she does... or tries to do when she's in a complicated situation like this, because, honestly, she can't get a thing done. I was actually considering giving her away for some old-fashioned Indian movies... if she'd had any singing or dancing skills. But she might be useful here, time will show."
"About the time... We should go now, want to see my new costume for mascarade?.. McAllen looked at him surprised, then he understood.
"Ok, let's see it!"
About an hour had passed. They were in a small room. Cortez went to the closet, opened it and took a big, dark coat out. He put it on, and then turned to McAlen, who was examining him with his sharp eyes.
"Isn't it a bit too primitive?" Asked McAlen hesitantly.
"It's perfect!" exclaimed Cortez.
"All right, as you wish!.. So, what's the next step?"
"I'm going to Arcadia. I have to take control over certain things there. Might take a couple of years mind."
"Until the next show then?"
"Yes! I'll see you in a... Well, I'll see you soon!"
"Ok, I'll go! I have much to do now, Gordon will become a Guardian any second now!" Said McAlen, looking at his watch.
"So what?" asked Cortez, McAlen looked at him surprised.
"Have you forgotten?... The'C-word'!
"Oh yes, how could I forget that... Good luck then! But, hey! Don't overdo! It would not be fun if you ruin all the technologies! Just... Don't make a return to stone age or something."
"Don't worry, I'll be... delicate!"
They gave each other a cunning smile once again. As McAllen went out and closed the door. Cortez came up to a mirror on the wall. He looked in it and examing his new looks attentively. He pulled the hood over his head to cover his face.
"Well!" He whispered, chuckling "The show must go on."