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A/N: it is not ending properly so there will be more

Beatrice looked at her sleeping companion opposite of her whiles countless marine life flitted pass the windows. She could see his bemused expression when she agreed to go with him without hesitation. She knew she acted as he remembered.

Tomas, poor Tomas, she thought, did you think you really could fool us again? Did you think we were as before, that time stood still for us while you sharpened your teeth, concealing them with new, soft lips of a different name? Nevertheless, why did you join Andromeda’s Court? How? Did the maddening ambitious Jasunros in his decrepitating old age see himself in you? You are certainly not the Faralyn Grevin you claimed to be; he was lost in Africa, the vociferous sage who argued the hackneyed idea conscience, as “eternal prison of the soul” was my friend. You somehow, did not know it. I suppose I must thank Adair for this, he had been good to me throughout the years. So curious, so curiously fragile he is. What would have happened if he were left in the world? What are you dreaming about, Tomas Deper, does the past still haunts you like how it haunted mine? I am always learning, it would have done you good if you had remembered it. You should not have assumed what you do not know; we learnt the lesson a hard way.

The train gradually slowed then stopped. As their cabin emerged from the water and the hatch slowly opened, Beatrice took a deep breath of the fresh, faintly spicy air. She could hear happy voices drifting in from the port. Ignoring the sleeper behind her, she took her thick jacket off and went up. Somehow, it felt so normal again to be in the company of unsuspicious folk. Shrill laughter filled the air; she saw families and lovers strolling on the stone footpath, some nearer to the delicate boutiques than the purple sea of the sunset. There were no benches or chair around; this was, after all, a port. A few blocks away however, she could detect crowds of people gathered alongside cyan colored fences, waiting for sunset. The skies have already been colored orange and purple.

In almost hurried steps, she was there, hardly alone, beside her, taking out their small, compact, quantum cameras were people jabbering in strange tongues and jargons amongst themselves. Beatrice stood on the harbor bridge, feeling the drafts of warm summer wind caressing her skin, allowing the sensual pleasure to envelope her. It had been so long since she last beheld the city in all its brilliant innocence. The year was 2422 CE, yet it looked as it had ever been in the late 21st century. There was a cleanness, a purity about it that she missed while living on the continent.

“The City of Sails,” she whispered, lips parting imperceptibly, looking at the gleaming yachts with sails raised at full mast to meet the wind. Most of them were cruising leisurely in the sea, gaining distance at a graceful, smooth speed as the sun gradually set into off into the horizon, painting the sea a brilliant purple.

“Also the one true city at the far end of the earth.” Beatrice heard distinctly by her ear and felt the breath on her neck amidst on the “oohs” and “ahhhs” and “wows”. She quickly turned around.

“Nick Adair,” she cried exasperatedly at the familiar face, “whence did you come? Whence is Krenin, was he not with you?”

“Sh…” An elderly woman warned, giving her a dangerous look. The crowd was now into the phase of silent wonder.

“Turning rudely archaic have we, Beatrice?” Nick mused sotto voce, “Of course I came after that message, it was your intent anyways.” Beatrice bit her lip, vacillating between delight and anger. “Now where is our old friend, Tomas Deper, I would certainly like to see him again after all these years. Fifty to be exact.”

“I would think you would know.”

“Unfortunately, Jasunros has been gleaning of late and I am not even sure what the new Faralyn Grevin looked like.” The Interlocutor sighed loudly, earning him a queer look from the chic couple beside them.

“Goodness sakes Adair, have some prudery. You have an extremely memorable face and he is by no means without perception.” Beatrice could see Tomas Deper’s tall figure walking around the bend.

“But I need an explanation.” He said, more audible as the crowd dispersed around them, eyes still glued onto the sinking star. She thought his tone drifted a bit, slurred, very different from the exact speech she remembered. She wondered, but something caught her eye.

“So do I, but not now.” Beatrice said to him, she saw Tomas pause beside a stone gargoyle and taking something small out of its mouth. Nick’s gaze shifted back to her face, and followed her eyes.

“I will see you again?” He said before leaving, more for permission than an actual question.

“Of course.” She turned back toward the sea.

This time, it was Beatrice who gave a loud sigh as she heard Nick’s footsteps becoming faint. As intriguing and puzzling as it all was, there was no time for her thoughts to organize properly. Tomas, no, Faralyn’s voice called to her.

“I know I would found you here. Everyone comes for the sunset the first time they arrive.” Soon he was close to her.

“Hmm,” Faralyn said in a vague manner, “It appears as dazzling as ever, I see the sun is still shining well in this part of the world. Unfortunately I am hungry, care to join me for dinner on the waterfront?”

What could she say? Beatrice desperately wished for time to think what she was suppose to do, and maybe ask for advice. Now she regretted that she had thrown herself headlong into this game.

“You must try the real classic recipe. Fish and chips like there had ever been.” Faralyn commented as they chose to from a small menu.

Soon after, she caught whiffs of fish. Real fish, seasoned with pepper and lemon juice, dead but ten minutes gone. Before they could commence on a small desert of ice cream however, a portly woman disrupted their peace by her forceful gesticulations and the raw it was causing at her table. She was gripping a blue e-book; almost shouting hysterically about “fils” while her arms went up and down. Everyone turned looked her, to tell her to be quiet while others were dining but she kept on screaming. The man she was with got redder and redder in the face and finally rose and firmly pressed down her shoulder to make her sit down again. Strange enough, she began to cry.

People had been watching this small spectacle some with disgust but most with amusement. Then the man made a small elegant bow to all and began to speak in an earnest, choking voice. At first, there were only a few wary listeners but soon there was a large audience staring at the man trying to understand the string of “English” he spoke. Beatrice’s face flickered with emotion with the man’s each word.

Twelve people had been literally defaced, their visages a bloody pulp when the police found them: featureless, round staring eyes. It happened two days ago but the remains were not found until today.

The fact that it happened in far away Azores Isle did little to ease the matters. That was where the Interlocutor took residence, and only him. Beatrice had no doubt that Adair did this and she was angry and confused. How did he ever get out? Now she regretted not asking him. The last time she checked, Portuguese snipers and Swiss Guards surrounded the island to keep the Interlocutor under surveillance. She thought there was a compromise or maybe not. Where is Krenin then? A horrible thought came to her mind, but she refused to acknowledge it.

The man’s message ended abruptly as the woman passed out and a young slim girl, presumably their daughter made a ruckus of calling the ambulance. In amidst the confusion, Faralyn paid and signaled Beatrice to slip out among the throng of people who had by now gathered.

Faralyn’s expression was especially grim and Beatrice thought it better if she stayed silent. After a while though, she noticed something very peculiar out of the corner of her eyes.

“They have been following us. Even now, I can see their clumsy furtiveness thirteen strides behind.” Quickly she whispered. This was safe to say, for now.

“Any idea who they are? Interlocutor’s spies?” He replied in the same hurried soft tone. Beatrice noticed almost with satisfaction that his hand unconsciously went to the pocket where she had saw him placed the small package. Tsk, it was an incorrigible habit.

“Nay, he is curious, never destructive.” She said, knowing the contrary but still highly suspicious.

They walked past the port into the city onto Queen’s Street, and almost ran up the sloped road and quickly turned into a corner into a gallery full of murmuring voices.

As they both stood in front of a magnificent 3D water color of Lake Wakatipu, slightly out of breath, Faralyn leaned over past the piece, close to Beatrice’s face, his sensitive lips tantalizingly close and said, “Time is of the essence now. I must show it to you tonight.”

Beatrice could hardly breathe as his mouth hovered so close to hers. This is Tomas Deper she reminded herself, the man who had tried to kill Nick and her. Nevertheless, is he? Looking at him so close, doubt assailed her. Then Beatrice realized something that made her hand jerk just a little on the colorful brochure she held.

Those lips, she remembered, now she know why he had looked so familiar, she had thought Tomas Deper merely committed himself under a skillful surgeon’s knife, but it was much more, so much more. How could she be so stupid? Those lips she realized, now that she was less sure of herself, she noticed the unique slight blue tint at the exact spot she recalled and made, a light line traced the inner lower lips.

How many times had she kissed them? They belong to the real Faralyn Grevin, who died in an anthological study in Africa, and if his lips are on Tomas Deper’s face, where is the rest of Faralyn?

Nick Adair, she told herself hatefully, uncomfortably humbled, one part of her wanting to laugh at the whole irony of the situation, he will be made to answer.

The conscious shape reality.

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The following comments are for "Familiar Strangers Part IV: The Lips"
by Furius

sophisticated style
I like this installation. You have a sophisticated style. You have a style where you actually live in the world that you're writing about, which is a very good trait for a fiction writer.

An especially good line is "Did you think we were as before, that time stood still for us while you sharpened your teeth, concealing them with new, soft lips of a different name?" This is a very good beginning line and it really draws the reader in.

( Posted by: Seanspacey [Member] On: May 10, 2002 )

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