In the morning the sun filtered through the window and cut across the floor. The room was silent. The house was still. Pym heard no movement come from downstairs, or from the room next to him. The last time Pym had been in a house as empty as this was after Rick left – after Rick was taken.
It was no different now. Pym had been through it all before, as a child.
He closed his eyes, deeply breathing the smell of his own blanket and letting himself feel the chilly spring morning air on his cheeks and forehead. He could stay here all day if he wanted to. Everything was fine. He kept his forehead pointing towards the wall, in case he might hear something he had missed in those first few moments of waking up to tell him that he wasn’t really alone, but there was nothing, and Pym knew better than to keep waiting on what was never going to be there again.
I love you.
Pym had never hated as much as he did in that moment.
When he left Bern by train several months later he looked back at the city where he’d been softened and remade. He would probably never see it again, but that was all right. He’d said his goodbyes that morning and the night before, and just before boarding the train. Everything was accounted for, and as for the rest – there was nothing left. Certainly there was no one left he could say goodbye to.
I love you.
At the end of his journey he’d be home and this would fall into his past and be forgotten about.
Anywhere Rick was, it was impossible to wake up before anyone else because someone, somewhere, would always be awake, whether the earliest up that morning or latest still up, but this morning Pym was awake before Rick. He pushed Rick’s heavy arm off himself and waited to see if Rick would stir, but he didn’t. The night before had done a number on him, and if Pym’s bed weren’t stolen he would have probably stayed there himself. Instead he walked across the cool floors towards his dresser, finding something to wear.
When he finished changing, Pym looked back to Rick, wondering how long he had until he was awake, too. It was probably not long – but then, Rick had worn himself down the night before, crying against Pym’s chest and holding him like his whole life might be uprooted if he let go. It didn’t mean anything; he’d probably be awake within ten minutes of Pym and everything would go on as it should.
Pym hadn’t been himself last night, either.
He’d cried thinking of Axel until he’d fallen asleep, silently repeating I love youagainst the plausible deniability afforded to him by Rick’s weeping. Now that the dark had fallen away all he was left with was a stabbing pain just behind his forehead that Pym would ignored until it dissipated. He was done. It was time to move on.
After the election, when the results came in and the inevitable was confirmed, his thoughts turned from Rick to Peggy to the moment that Rick sat her down in front of himself and everyone else in the church, graciously, and then to how it had not been enough.
It hadn’t been enough to save Rick his victory.
It hadn’t been enough to return to Peggy what had been stolen from her – but what would have been? Her husband was still dead, her son still growing up in poverty. Her liquidity was now oil to slick the wheels of Rick’s fortune.
It hadn’t been enough, but Peggy Wentworth knew she’d never regain what she’d lost. It hadn’t been about that, had it? Peggy had been after revenge, the only thing left for her to walk away with.
And did she get it? Now that the election was over, would she go home satisfied to know that she had shut Rick out from this single avenue?
If Axel were still alive, what revenge would he want?
I love you.
This had to be his revenge. Why else would Axel follow Pym so closely?
I love you, Pym said. I love you, I love you, I love you – How many times would he need to say it before Axel understood that he’d already had his revenge? Why was he still here? He’d left his mark on Pym, a scar that still hurt more often than not – he didn’t need to gouge through the rest of Pym’s life. He could leave now. He was dead, and Pym had seen enough to know that leaving was what the dead did best.