Lila froze for a second. "Wait..." she said slowly. "Five hundred years?" Her voice climbed an octave. "You've been alive five hundred years?! I just assumed - well I thought you were the same age as me. You don't look old. Oh my gosh, you're immortal aren't you?!"
She paused for a moment to allow Jefferson to actually answer some of her questions. It seemed nothing she thought she knew about this guy was true, but she didn't exactly resent it. She still thought he was as kind and charming as when she had first met him. She gave him a small smile to show she didn't care what he told her.
Jefferson winced. "Not quite immortal. We stop aging when they take us... and when they let us go we start aging again. Yes and no."
The smile was a welcome sight and he offered one back. "I am roughly 521 years old, give or take one or two years. They took me at 22. When they let me go... I'll continue aging from 22 and live to die at an old age- hopefully."
Lila took a moment to digest this information. "Do you ever find it weird... how much things have changed?" she asked finally. "Like, you must have been born centuries ago. And now things are different. The world is a seriously messed up place, for a start. I guess you must find it hard to keep up sometimes."
Jefferson tucked his hands in his pockets. "No. I mean the ease and flow of this generation is different than mine, but the world never changes."
He studied her face to see if she could handle this. "It's always the same. Men taking advantage of woman, women taking advantage of men. Matchers forcing their hands and the Archangels sitting back in their high and mighty chairs. They let us do everything but they give the orders... So no. The world hasn't changed so much in the past coupl centuries."
Jefferson checked his watch and looked back to Lila. "You have work, don't you? We can walk and talk."
Lila glanced at her watch in her eyes widened. "I'm already late," she groaned. She didn't blame Jefferson though, she'd been the one who encourage him to talk to her. "I know a shortcut we can go down if you'll come with me. I just don't like to go down it on my own because it's dark and sometimes strange people hang out down it." She blushed. "Im sorry, that sounds so childish."
"Not at all, I understand. I was afraid of the dark for leaning on three centuries. Don't worry about it. I'll come with you." Jefferson kicked away from the wall and turned towards the door. "Do you need me to carry something?"
Jefferson offered his arms, waiting to see if she'd give anything for him to carry. "I have to check on someone while you're at work, but then I'll come visit you." He bit his lip. "Is that weird?"
"Not at all," Lila smiled, fighting the urge to giggle at the adorable lip biting. "I'd like you to come visit. It certainly makes my shift a whole lot less boring, that's for sure. I'll even make sure they have honey for your tea. How about that?"
Lila picked up her satchel and slung it over her shoulder. "I think I'm alright carry this for myself. They let me keep my easel and stuff in the cupboard so I don't have to worry about lugging it home."
"That's nice of them." Jefferson's face fell just slightly but a smile picked it right back up. "Sounds lovely, I need honey in my tea. I put honey in almost everything though... It's one of the things I let myself indulge in."
Jefferson led the way out of the building, hoping beyond hope that Micheal wouldn't be anywhere near the restaurant. He couldn't very well tell the girl he wanted to free that he was going to check up on her Match. He probably, in retrospect, shouldn't have told her anything about her Matching. Now Lila would be curious and her heart would know Micheal without any wavering.
Jefferson groaned under his breath. Stupid stupid stpid.
Lila locked the building behind them, and as she turned she spotted a man across the street who was quite a lot older than herself. As she stared at him, her heart filled with tenderness. Nothing like the firey, overwhelming wave she felt around Jefferson, but still more than she should feel for a stranger.
She turned to look at Jefferson to see if he could see anything odd about the man that would explain her feelings for him. She was confused, which upset her. She didn't like not knowing how she was feeling or why.
Jefferson's natural reaction was to move Lila behind him, but he fought it. Micheal stood across the street, exactly where he'd been when Jefferson had gotten back. "Micheal," He whispered as answer to her unvoiced question.
"You're late," Jefferson reminded her in a vain attempt to keep her by his side. The old man's heart clenched and Matcher flenched. It was his job to make this Match and he just couldn't do this one.
The same girl he'd seen earlier stood across the road from Micheal, staring at that man. He wracked his brain and finally remembered what was bothering him about the man. It was the same guy who'd blown past him earlier, only to throw a glare over his shoulder.
"Hello?" Micheal called. The guy said something and the pain in his chest surprised him. When he saw the young man flinch, he wondered if maybe it was possible that he'd felt Micheal's pain.
Lila glanced at Michael, sure she still didn't know who he was. Jefferson seemed to know though, and he didn't seem to like him. He just seemed like a kindly older man to get though.
She waved at him across the street when he greeted them. She heard Jefferson remind her she was late, but this man was far more interesting than work. She wanted find out much more about him.
Jefferson let his shoulders fall into a defeated slump. "Do..." He almost choked on the question and had to start over. "Do you want to meet him?" It wasn't his place to ask a question like that and he needed to remember that his duty as a Matcher was to not care about his own wants.
Jefferson made his way across the street, willing himself to mend any broken ties he'd caused. "I'm Jefferson. That's Lila... and I think I should go."
"I'm Micheal," Micheal replied automatically, but he had a feeling that this Jefferson person already knew that. The young man seemed reluctant to introduce them, though the girl - Lila, looked excited.
Lila was who he offered his hand to in any case. She was beautiful-- very, very beautiful and Micheal could see why Jefferson hadn't wanted to share this jewel. What were these wayward thoughts of his? I've sworn off love and women, Micheal desperately reminded himself. But she's... there's something about her. He smiled as his heart beat out a hopeful banter to play.
"Please don't go," Lila pleaded. She didn't know this man and Jefferson did; she was hoping he'd be able to tell her more about him.
Her eyes studied Michael's face. They traced every wrinkle, each eyelash. Nothing was missed. Why she was so interested, she had no idea. Somehow, she felt the need to comfort this man. How she knew he was grieving was another matter entirely. "Do I know you?" she asked finally.
Jefferson stopped his retreat and stared at the two of them. This Match would go well, he could already see it. The way Lila studied the man in front of her...
"Micheal, Lila's an artist." He decided to sell Lila up. She was an amazing specimen of woman and she deserved the best. Jefferson could not- would not sell Micheal up. One reason is that he didn't want to scare the man away and the other reason is that he did. For Lila's sake, he had to keep his mouth closed.
"An artist?" Micheal smiled and for some reason his heart swelled into his eyes. "I bet your work is lovely." He nodded, his smile widening into a warm and genuine one.
The fact that she'd called the Jefferson man back had given Micheal pause. Now though, with Lila's eyes tracing his face, he believed he was only there as a go between. Jefferson certainly didn't look too happy about it though. For the rare slits of time where Micheal could pull his eyes away from the girl; he'd noticed that the man actually looked in pain.
"I don't know about that. You'll have to ask Jefferson what he thinks; he's seen my work and doesn't have any reason to sell me up," Lila smiled, tearing her eyes away from Micheal's to glance over at him.
It took a moment, but Lila detected that Jefferson was upset about something. He seemed almost defeated. What had changed in the last few minutes? He had been perfectly happy talking with her, but now his expression was tense and his half-smile forced.
She sent him a worried glance. There was a buzz in her heart telling her to turn back to Micheal, but she repressed it. Helping her friend was far more important than that right now.
Jefferson offered a wan smile. "I have every reason. Lila, you should show him your work." It killed him to put his Matcher's compulsion into the suggestion. But this was his job... there were things he had to give up and now Lila was at the top of his Can't-Have list.
Jefferson urged her to look back to Micheal.
Micheal glanced between the pair. He grinned at Jefferson's suggestion but was still curious about the boy's expression. It didn't quite make since... he shook it off.
"I'd love to see it." Micheal offered up, letting his smile widen even more.
((I'LL BE GONE FOR 3 DAYS))
"I don't know..." Lila shrugged bashfully. She didn't mind Jefferson seeing her work, and Jess, but anyone else felt wrong. Even with her strange connection to Michael, she had to remind herself that he was still basically a stranger.
She made the mistake of looking up at the old man. He was watching her with a fascinated look on his face, as if she was interesting or something. Lila sighed. "Well, alright then," she said finally. She undid her satchel and pulled out the sketchbook, holding it out to Michael. "Here you are."
Micheal took the sketchbook into his hands with reverence. His eyes scanned every drawing and the smile on his face softened more with each flip of the page. "These are beautiful," Micheal's eyes flicked to Lila's. "You're an amazing artist."
Jefferson glanced between them, letting his eyes dance over the pair. What was he doing? Standing by while this happened... When Jefferson was sure they weren't paying attention; he slipped his visibility and started to back away.
Lila blinked at Michael, taken aback by his compliments, which seemed over-the-top to her. "Thank you," she said laughingly. She turned to smile at Jefferson too, but noticed that he wasn't there.
She looked around the streets for him, but it was if he had melted into the crowds. Unless... But why would he slip his visibility now except to escape her and Michael? "Jefferson?" she called out, not wanting him to leave.