“Why did you not say goodbye?” Door had asked the Marquis curiously in the Abbey.
The Marquis hadn’t looked at her, simply remained staring thoughtfully into the middle distance when he replied, matter-of-factly, “Because, my dear, goodbyes are for those you won’t be seeing again.”
“Richard is going back to London Above,” she told him, as though the Marquis had not been privy to that information before.
De Carabas looked at her, smiling his broad, knowing smile before walking away in silence.
No one saw much of the Marquis after he left the abode of the Black Friars. Favours went uncalled and those who wished to trade them found their calls unanswered and their searches futile. Not even Old Bailey was able to answer their questions. Well, no. That wasn’t quite accurate. He was perfectly able to answer their questions for he was one of the few who knew the Marquis’s whereabouts, for there was exceedingly little that Old Bailey did not know. However, whenever he was asked, he would simply shake his head and busy himself with something unnecessary, efficiently ignoring the questioner until they left.
Richard Mayhew was not one of those searching for the Marquis de Carabas. Having returned to his life in London Above he did not know that the man was effectively missing. However, it was likely that he would be one of the very select few who would easily be able to find him, since the Marquis could usually be found shrouded in shadows, never out of Richard’s visual range, perfectly obvious if he was to just look.
But Richard never looked. Which was the reason de Carabas continued.
The Marquis had always prided himself on being exceptionally patient and exceptionally perceptive; knowing a man’s motives and desires often long before they knew them themselves. As he shadowed Richard, watching as he tried to merge himself back into the fragments of a life left behind.
It irked him to no end how Richard felt it would be so easy to return to London Above, after everything he had experienced, everyone he had met. And still, Mr. Mayhew believed he still fit in this world.
Did he truly believe that he could return Upworld with nothing more than a muttered goodbye? No, of course he couldn’t. Even if he truly wanted to, there were very few who were allowed to simply walk away from the Marquis de Carabas.
The weeks dragged as Richard went about collecting the shattered and scattered pieces of an existence that he had been taken from. Returning to his job and home, mundane and ordinary. Beneath him, even in their new, improved appearance. Going about a routine, familiar yet foreign. The same every day.
Dull. Nothing that the Warrior should be enduring.
However, that was not for the Marquis to decide. If Richard wished to continue this pretence, then he would not be the one to stop him. No matter how much he wished to, de Carabas did not go to others for their company. They come to him.
“Why does he persist?” he mused idly to the man he was crouched over, one hand clasped tight around his neck in the shadows of the tube station in which Richard was standing, waiting, patiently, ordinarily, for his tube train.
The man gave a choked noise scratching at the hand that had his neck.
“Persist in this charade of existing where he no longer belongs,” de Carabas explained, answering a question that was not asked as he watched Richard.
The man was entirely uninterested, focused on surviving on the little air that was slipping past the vice-like grip on his neck.
The Marquis drew his attention to the man, “He belongs to London Below. He belongs to me,” he told him, as though explaining something perfectly simple to a small child.
All the man could do was stutter unintelligibly.
De Carabas went back to watching Richard, eyes intent, almost possessive, “The Warrior that killed the Beast of London,” a note of pride passed fleetingly over his words as he gave Richard the title with which he was so often referred to in London Below, “Has many fans. Many of whom would disrupt Richard’s new - forgive me - old life,” the Marquis gave a tight, humourless smile as he regarded one of those fans he was talking about, pressed against the dirty floor under his weight, hand still gripping his neck, “Kill is a harsh word, a harsh act. Though I suppose there is no other way, some of his admirers can be quite persistent,” he informed him.
A new light of fear entered the man’s gaze and his struggling stilled, staring wide-eyed up at the Marquis whose attention had already been drawn back to Richard.
“Don’t think of it as a kindness,” he said, though, that was the last thought that the man had considered facing his death, “To prolong Richard’s futile attempt to return to a life that is no longer his is, if anything, a small piece of sadism on my part. A punishment, if you will, for his foolishness.”
The warm wind began to blow through the station. The man’s time was almost at an end.
“In time, though, he will come to see his foolishness for himself,” de Carabas told the man, grip tightening, “And until then, what can I do but watch?” he asked, giving his broad, bright smile, strangling him as the train screeched into the station. Once the man’s struggling had finally stopped, de Carabas stood, readjusted the long coat he had acquired and strode out onto the platform to board the tube train one door down from Richard.
The Warrior would realise his mistake. He would return.
And the Marquis would be waiting to lead him back to his true reality.