When Maes jogs around the edge of the football pitch that morning, the cadet is standing there again, just as he's been for the last three mornings, with his oilcloth and his candle. He's doing whatever he's been trying to do for three mornings running, at 6am. Maes suspects it has something to do with alchemy; and whatever it is, it doesn't appear to be working.
Maes nods to the cadet, and says, "Morning."
The cadet nods, but doesn't say hello. He never does.
And that vaguely annoys Maes, so he jogs on the spot and says, "Turned out nice again."
The cadet narrows his eyes. "Stop being so cheerful. It's too early."
The fifth morning, the weather turns. As he jogs around the pitch in the pouring rain, he's honestly not expecting to see the cadet this time. It's not like he could keep a fire going in this downpour. The candle stands abandoned, extinguished in its holder, dripping water. But the cadet is there too; standing in the shade of the bleachers, soaked to the skin with his bangs plastered to his forehead, undignified and sulky as a wet cat.
"Morning!" Maes says.
The cadet grunts.
"Not very good weather for - well, whatever you're doing - is it?"
The cadet doesn't show any sign that he's noticed Maes' unsubtle implicit question. He just says, "It'll stop soon. It never rains hard for more than ten minutes." His mouth turns down stubbornly. He looks about twelve.
"Why not call it a day? You could come back tomorrow morning." As if he doesn't always.
"It'll be worth the wait." And then he shuts himself off, annoyingly.
Maes really ought to be doing a longer run every few days anyway; and it's one of his weaknesses that he can never resist a mystery. As the cadet predicts, today the sky clears long before his second pass of the circuit is done. He doesn't see any smoke or flashes, though. Perhaps the cadet gave up after all?
But he hasn't given up. As Maes rounds the edge of the football field again, the candle is still where it was, but the cadet is there by the bleachers too, arms folded, grinning. As Maes jogs up, the cadet takes a bundle out of his jacket, unwraps it. Inside is a new, dry candle and a cigarette lighter. He moves to the old candle, removes it from the holder, replaces it and lights it. His motions are careful and almost flamboyant, like a stage magician. He was waiting, Maes realises. But how did he guess Maes would return to be his audience?