He wasn’t surprised, she had done this before. She had a key after all and would sometimes come by without telling him. It had been a while though, and their last meeting hadn’t been too pleasant. Home truths, on both sides, hadn’t landed well and he was glad of the distance and space as a result.
Jess sat opposite him now, her face friendly yet revealed nothing. She was holding a book herself, smaller than the one Levon had used to go into the altered, but it was similar in design and he knew what it was. Sweet trickled from his head after his journey over and back, and he was thirsty too, like always. She pushed across a glass of water, which he took up quickly; emptying it before talking.
“And what do I have this pleasure for?” He asked, setting the glass back on the table and wiping his brow.
“Pleasure for you, but a chore for me.” Jess said, toying with the book in her hands as she sat forward.
“I was being sarcastic.” He replied.
“Oh course you were Levon, as you always are. You can never be direct, or sincere or transparent.” Her words hung over the table. He looked away.
“What do you want?” He asked, the irritation sticky in the words.
“I want you to do what you do best. There’s a family I want cleansed, and I need it done quickly.” She said.
“I figured as much. And you always want things done quickly, and specifically…and to your specification. It must really annoy you that you don’t have this ability, having to rely on me and my…what was it, pathetic and backward ways of handling life.” Levon said. He bore his eyes into her own. Jess looked away, irritated.
“Once again you put your own needs in the way of others.” She said, smiling in satisfaction before continuing. “For your information, this isn’t about me or what I want. This will change everything, eventually.”
Levon paused before replying, searching her eyes for the reasons. He found them tucked in there between the iris and starlight the he could always see in the honest.
“Who and why?” he said.
“They are the Tanakas, and they live over on the west side.”
“They’re always on the west side.” Levon blurted out.
“And we all know why they’re all in the west side, we know who’s pushed them there. Geez, listen will you. The Tanakas live in a shared house, there’s five other families there with them. They live on the top floor. The place is a dump, the usual. We need them cleansed as soon as possible. I think they are the answer to all this.” Jess said. She got up now and moved across to the bookshelf. She clutched her own small book still, but ran her fingers across the spines of the others on the shelf. It came to rest on a book, which she tapped before sliding it out of its place.
“And what is the answer to the question we all know then?” Levon asked.
Jess turned to face him. Her eyes wide, yet filled with hope.
“Because the Tanakas are the dirty little secret of the one and only Akio Tsutsumi. And I think we have a way of getting your amazing abilities to a much wider audience.” Jess said, suddenly alive with more urgency.
Levon looked at her, wondering what plan she had formed in her mind. Jess moved, not on impulse; but from a place of strategy and calculation. Her anger from all the injustice was ploughed into ways of overturning the system that had raised the few and lowered the many. She herself, a product from the tainted world of S.I.N where her blood directed her supposed path. That anger and disillusion spread, forcing her into the revolutional world of the likes of Levon. Levon, a lone wolf in a rising group of defiers. Of lights in a darkening world. Their alliance was problematic, but they wanted the same thing in the end. Equality.
“The asshole of the year you mean. What’s Tsutsumi got to do with your plan?” Levon asked, also getting up and moving across to where Jess stood. He took the small book she was clutching, opening it up. It shimmered too with a familiar blue light.
“Take a look for yourself.” she said, and she whispered over the book he had held open. The book flickered forward through some pages before a mist began to seep out; wafting upwards. The blue light seemed to charge through the cloud like an electricity circuit before images began to appear and move, like a floating screen. He saw what Jess had in mind.