David woke to an empty bed, a dark night, and light coming from under the door. He found Charlie sitting at the table staring at two pieces of paper with a whiskey bottle by his side.
David’s stomach twisted at the sight of the papers. He wasn’t even sure how Charlie had gotten a hold of them. One was stained brown from where David had grabbed it, his hands covered in Charlie’s blood. The other David had ripped in half, a day later, refusing to read what Charlie had intended to be his last words. Someone had taped it back together.
David sat beside Charlie.
“What are you thinking about?” he asked carefully.
“Turing,” Charlie answered not taking his eyes from the papers.
“He broke Enigma. He proved there was no solution to the Entscheidungsproblem. He presented the first real design for a stored-program computer. He believed that one day machines could think. And for his crimes they stripped him of his clearance, dismissed his worked, until one day he poisoned an apple and ate it like Snow White.”
David placed his hand over Charlie’s.
“He didn’t leave a note. They think it was so his mother could have a little plausible deniability.” Charlie removed his hand from under David’s and poured himself a drink. “He would have been a hundred today.” Charlie tossed back the whiskey. “How much further would we be today if he’d had a handsome prince to wake him up with a kiss?”
David wasn’t sure what to say. For all of Charlie’s healing he still had dark moments that would never fully fade, and they both knew the best they could do was to try to ride through them.
“I am so angry, David.” Charlie whispered. “I’m angry at the past, at him. Angry at myself for even…”
Charlie poured another drink.
“He gave so much David and they took so much from him. I’ve been given so much and I tried…”
Charlie threw back the second drink but the bottle had already been half empty when David came out. David moved the bottle aside.
“You give as well, Charlie. You have saved a lot of lives. You teach anyone who will listen. You can’t tell me your cognitive emergence work isn’t going to change the way people think about… thinking.” Charlie closed his eyes and gripped David’s hand.
“I just wish-“ He squeezed David’s hand even tighter.
“During my first case with the FBI Larry reminded me of Evariste Galois, brilliant mathematician, killed in a duel, age twenty. He picked the wrong mathematician for an object lesson. He also pointed out that working on human problems was going to involve pain and disappointment. He asked me if it would be worth it.”
“I hope it has?”
“Most of my disappointment has been with myself.”
David scooted over so he could pull Charlie close. “You’ve lived a good life. You are living a good life. You do good work.”
Charlie sighed and David could smell the alcohol. “I just wish I could change the past. Send a message. Something.”
“I know.” David pushed aside the notes not wanting a chance to even accidentally read them. “Come back to bed. You’ve got class in the morning.”
“I do don’t I.”
“You’ve got all those bright young minds listening to you. Maybe you can send a message to the future.”