Lila shook her head, completely and utterly bewildered. She felt like crying; of course he was lying to her. He couldn't be telling the truth. He just couldn't. She thought it was a low blow though - begging her not to leave and then putting in a sob story too. It was all too much.
"Do you think this is funny?" she said, her voice hoarse. "Do you think this is funny?! Oh yeah, exploit the poor girl who doesn't understand her own feelings for a guy she barely knows. Freaking hilarious. Stand-up comedian, is that what you are?" She gave a hollow laugh.
"You're okay? That's great. I really do think that's great, because I care. Obviously more than you care about me, but there we go. Caring - it must be a fatal human flaw. Do you Matchers sit up there on your clouds and laugh at us mere mortals who always seem to care too much?" In her heartbroken state, Lila was unable to see Jefferson's own feelings. "Well, do you?"
Jefferson watched her silently, he knew better than to say something right away. After a moment he met her eyes. "I wouldn't.. Lila," Five hundred years of service, he knew what betrayal looked like and sounded like in every heart he'd ever been around. "Lila, we don't... I don't sit anywhere to laugh at you. No, I live in your deepest regrets and your biggest wishes... Or I did anyways. Didn't I tell you this?"
Jefferson went over their past conversations and grimaced. No, he hadn't told her. "With.. With Micheal, I didn't like him and you asked why. Do you remember? It was because I wanted you to have a choice.. And later, when we were talking about my charges having different Matchers assigned to them?" He broke off, keeping his voice calm and soothing. "I didn't think they'd try to assign a Matcher to me."
Jefferson held his hand out, knowing it was probably useless. "There are things I shouldn't share with people who aren't Serviced, but I told you everything. Now they're trying to punish me by tearing my world apart. But Lila, listen. Lila I would never lie to you about this. If there's anything I've kept with me these years, it's honesty."
Lila looked intently into Jefferson's eyes, as if seeking to find something hidden in their depths. After a long moment, a glimmer of hope began to blossom in her heart. She had grown up with parents who spent their lives lying - to each other, to her, to themselves. She knew what someone looked like when they were seeking to decieve another. And yet... she couldn't see it in Jefferson. Perhaps there was the smallest chance that he was telling the truth.
"So you're saying... that Michael is - was? - my Match. And I was expected to spend the rest of my life loving him, because some old people decided that was what should happen?" Lila confirmed. "And now they're angry with you for... what, trying to give me my own free will and telling me who you are? It sounds to me like Matchers suck. Have I covered everything."
Lila chose to ignore for the moment the larger part of Jefferson's speech, the fact that he was being forced to fall in love with her. That was the part she couldn't believe was true. It was just too cruel, too raw, too personal for her to think of right then.
Jefferson sighed. Really only one part stuck out to him and he latched onto it. "We're not old, I'm the oldest and I'm still 22. I'm aging again now..." He let a small smile play across his lips. "Yes, he was your Match. I think he may still be.. but you're my Match apparentally."
((this reply hurts me, but I didn't know what to say))
Lila raised an eyebrow. "You've been alive for hundreds of years Jefferson. You're old," she said, but her tone was light and teasing. After a brief moment her face turned thoughtful and she glanced at him, worry in her eyes. "How can I be Matched to two people? Am I supposed to choose? If I choose you, I'll break Michael's heart. Well, perhaps not that, but it'll hurt him. But if I choose him, I don't think I'll be able to live with myself."
"They won't tell me. They don't want me to know... So I'm not sure." Jefferson shrugged and looked up. He didn't know whether or not he should get up and keep going. "But, if you want to talk to them, you may be able to." He shrugged again. Realizing that his shoulders were almost to the sky, he smacked them down and sagged back against the wall.
Lila hesitated, and then went to lean against the wall beside Jefferson. She hated seeing him like this, worn and defeated. "If me talking to them will help sort this out, I'll do it," she said quietly. Inside, her heart was pounding and her palms were beginning to sweat. She was terrified of having to meet them, terriefied that they would hurt her, or worse, Jefferson. She took a calming breath and turned to look him in the eye. "Just tell me what I have to do."
Jefferson cringed but squared his shoulders. "You have to wait until there's one around you and then you just address it. They'll have to speak to you." He let his head fall back against the wall again and slid his eyes shut. He could feel Lila's panic, it was raditing from her. "Hey," Jefferson took her hand, smoothing circles on the back with his thumb. "Don't worry, I'm here."
"That's what I'm worried about," Lila sighed. She stared straight out of the window, her eyes far away. "They're doing this to you as a punishment, right? Well, the more time you spend with me, the more time you'll be punished. I don't want to see you hurt; it's the last thing I want. It would be my fault and I'd never be able to forgive myself."
"It's not only you. They just wanted a reason... Their jealousy over my superior experience is why they're doing this." Jefferson actually cracked a genuine laugh at that. He felt a bristling at his side and his laughter became louder. "Do you deny it? Which are you? Donovan?" The bristling became more insistent. "Ah, yes. I knew they'd send you."
Belatedly, Jefferson realized he sounded crazy. "Lila, meet Donovan. He's the Matcher they've sent me." For what it was worth, he did try to stop laughing. He couldn't.
"Ummm, hi..." Lila said to the space near Jefferson's shoulder. She didn't even comment on his laughing; nothing could really surprise her anymore. She addressed Donovan. "Would you mind showing yourself? It's pretty hard to have a conversation with someone you can't see. That is, if I'm allowed to have a conversation with you."
Lila chewed on her lip nervously; it was all very well bein able to feel comfortable about Jefferson being a Matcher, quite another to meet one more who might not be nearly so friendly.
"Do not presume that it is your place to address me, lady." Donovan was on his feet in on liquid movement and then struggled for a moment to find his visibility. Once he had, he stared just as blatantly at Lila as he had been.
The lady is beautiful, Jeb. Do you not love her? Jefferson's laughter cut off as a glare took its place. "And do not you presume to know me. You haven't any idea of my history. Nay, I'd say you have none. My affections whether here nor there will no' be told by you." The unserviced Matcher slipped into the dialect of his long-gone home.
Donovan grinned. His chest was tight but he needed to ignore it. He and Jefferson had been close friends the past century and a half. Donovan knew his place, though, where Jefferson had often forgotten his. Oh, he missed his brother; for they were brothers in Service and had seen much.
((Bumping in case it's lost))
Lila found herself briefly wondering why she was suprised to hear Donovan speaking in an accent. She supposed that, to him, she spoke in an accent, although she couldn't identify it herself. But Matchers seemed so... rehearsed almost. It seemed odd for this one to let any moment of the performance slip.
She shook her head and looked up at Jefferson for guidance, not knowing what she was supposed to do. "I-I'm sorry for, um, disturbing you," she stammered, too nervous to glance at Donovan as she addressed him. "I just - I really need to know w-what's going on."
Jefferson glanced over and then rested his gaze on Lila's face. "Tell her, Vinny." He cringed when the nickname escaped. "Donovan," He corrected, brushing the fringe of his hair back from his face.
The nickname made his chest constrict a bit more and he continued to ignore the girl. "Does it no' pain you, Jeb, to see us this way? Were we no' brothers?" Donovan let his fingers mold to the shape of Jefferson's shoulder. "This post was no' chosen by me." He whispered before turning to Lila.
"Do you like Jefferson?" Donovan's old gaelic accent morphed perfectly into modern cockney. "Would you like to keep him? Because, you may have him... if you like. You're Matched to him. Micheal has been given a new Match." He nodded and looked back at Jefferson. "I' twas my doing, Jeb. What else could I do?"
Lila took Donovan's question to Jefferson as an opportunity to take a moment to think over what he had said. He had asked if she liked Jefferson; she knew she did, but her feelings, as far as she was aware, had not developed into anything close enough to love yet. Of course not. That would be ridiculous after only knowing him a day.
But at the same time, the idea of being Matched to him made her stomach squirm in a not altogether unpleasant way. She wanted the chance to get to know more about him, and perhaps, one day, to learn to love him.
The only thing that was holding her back was the concept that they would be helped with their love, that it wouldn't be entirely their own. It seemed unnatural. If she was going to fall for Jefferson, she wanted to do it on her own terms, not on the terms of some Matcher.
Donovan felt Lila's aura flutuate and looked to Jefferson for help. It'd always been this way between the two. Donovan wouldn't make even one move without consulting his brother first.
Jefferson squared his shoulders and refused to let a smile cross his face. "She doesn't want it to be like this. She wants to fall naturally." He gestured loosely in Lila's directoin while studying Donovans face.
Lila glanced up sharply; how on earth did Jefferson know her thoughts? She studied his face and realised that he was attempting to conceal a smile. "It seems I don't exactly have a choice," she said dryly. She addressed Jefferson, while the sentiment of her words was aimed at Donovan.
"I mean," Lila went on, "if I say I don't want to be Matched to Jefferson, you'll only Match me to someone else. You're never going to let me handle this on my own, are you?"
"There is a Matcher for everyone," Donovan replied, smiling a bit at Jefferson's expression. How many times had he seen that look? "No one 'handles' it by themselves. Even your first love as a child was the fault of a Matcher."
Jefferson shook his head. "Vin, you're scaring her." The second part he aimed towards her. "Lila, you choose who you're Matched to. We don't sit with a giant book of names and just decide who'll be with who." Jefferson looked down at his fingers. "We just watch you and we know you. We know who you'd fall for and what type of person you'll become afterwards... So when we know you're ready for the type of love you need, we make sure that your partner is close by and ready as well."