[When Love Dies] Chapter 2, Part 2

Sorry guys! Got caught up working on chapter 3 and lost track of time. Here is part 2!

“I’ve gone over every paper the hospital sent home with me, wikipedia, the Mayo Clinic website and every other site I could find. None of them know for sure what causes leukemia,” Patience greeted me. “I even went to the hospital and talked with the doctors there, just to double check. We have nothing, My Lord.”

“I’ve gone over every paper the hospital sent home with me, wikipedia, the Mayo Clinic website and every other site I could find. None of them know for sure what causes leukemia,” Patience greeted me. “I even went to the hospital and talked with the doctors there, just to double check. We have nothing, My Lord.”

“Does leukemia cause abnormal growths?” From the way Patience’s eyes go wide, I’m guessing my greeting sucked as well.

“You mean tumors? I don’t believe so. Why?” She paled. “Oh no, Lizzy…”

“Lizzy’s fine.” I winced. “Well, not fine, but…nevermind — I meant: it’s not about her. Chris and Trust are sick, too”

“What?”

“Maggie says Trust has the same thing Kindness has.” I dropped onto the loveseat. “Chris has these…things growing on his wings.”

For a minute, she just stared at me. Then her face tightened, and she spun on her heel, beckoning for me to follow her. I groaned and lurched to my feet.

I found her in one of the few rooms Joy hadn’t decorated yet. Wood paneling covered the walls that weren’t otherwise taken up with bookshelves or windows. A massive desk held center stage, with a couple of comfortable-looking arm chairs facing it at an angle. Patience was in the chair behind the desk, staring at the computer screen in front of her and typing feverishly.

I pulled one of the armchairs around to the other side of the desk, turning it so I could take in the view from the window and watch Patience work at the same time. Leaning forward to prop my elbows on my knees, I dropped my face into my hands and just breathed. I had stayed with Maggie long enough to get Chris settled in bed before racing home with the hope that Patience would have an answer. Now…I leaned back in the chair, staring at the ceiling without seeing. Every time I shut my eyes, I saw bloody feathers and Kindness’ pale face.

Patience stopped typing. I heard her stand up and walk away, then return. A moment later, the air was knocked out of me as a pile of papers dropped on my stomach. I flailed and sat up, papers falling everywhere. “Wha—?”

“Papers from the doctors. Read. If you see the word ‘tumor’, tell me.”

I stared at the back of Patience’s head. She was reading something on the screen in front of her. I dragged myself out of the chair and gathered the papers together. Once I had them in a pile again, I laid my hand flat on the top, sending my awareness through the pages. I sifted through the information as it filtered in, looking for anything that might match what I had seen.

I picked up the stack of papers and set them on the desk, out of the way. “Anything else?”

She opened her mouth, then shut it. “I forgot…”

“Forgot what?”

“You…Here, wait a minute.” Patience typed something real quick, then grabbed my arm.

I felt a weird tug in my stomach and scowled at her. “If you needed to travel somewhere, you could’ve just told me.” I looked around. There wasn’t much light to see by, but I could guess where we were by the rows of books surrounding us. “Why did you bring me to a library?”

“It’s not just any library — it’s The National Library of Medicine,” Patience informed me. “You can absorb information just by touching a book, and this is the largest medical library in the world. If there’s anything to be found, it will be here.”

“It’s a good idea,” I admitted. “But there’s a slight problem: do you have any idea how many books are here? I mean, seriously, there has to be at least a million, and there’s only one of me.” I trailed my fingers over the spines of the nearest books and grimaced. “Even if I was at full strength, it would take me a couple days. Right now, it’d take at least a week.”

Patience chewed on her lower lip. “I could ask Viggo?” She wrinkled her nose at the look I gave her. “Sorry, War’s new name.”

“You really want to bring War to a library?” I tried to keep my voice down, but seriously?

“What?  He’s still one of the major gods, he could help you knock it out real quick.”

What the hell…she actually looked confused. I pinched the bridge of my nose and counted to ten. “Patience, darling, think: what happened the last time War was in a library?”

“Oh…yeah.” Patience winced. “But that was centuries ago,” she protested. “He’s not-okay, no, he’s still pretty bad.” She sighed. “I’m just desperate, I guess.”

“I understand, Patience, believe me, but if he burns down this library, there goes any hope of finding help for anyone.” I shook my head. “Besides, it’s probably best we keep this quiet. The last thing we need is Panic getting wind of this.” I looked at the shelves and grimaced again. “I might as well get started.”

“Wait, I have an idea — stay right here.” Patience disappeared into the rows of shelves.

While I waited, I ran my fingers over the nearest books, absorbing the information as I went. I had finished the ones I could reach without a problem and was debating climbing the shelves for the books out of reach when she returned looking triumphant.

She grabbed me by the arm, there was that stupid gut tug again, and we were in a different area of the library.

“Leukemia and tumors are both cancer related,” she explained. “So instead of you searching the whole library, why not just search the cancer section?”

A good point, and it would take a lot less time. I picked an aisle, and started making my way through the books on one side. I felt more than saw Patience flicker in and out around me. Eventually, I had to create a rolling ladder to stand on so I could get to the books on the top shelves. By the time I was done, it was a couple hours after midnight and my legs felt like jelly.

I wobbled off of the ladder, taking the arm Patience offered me. This time, I was glad to feel the tug of her teleporting us away, the bright overhead light of the office replacing the dim library. With her help, I made it back to my chair from earlier. With human bodies, come human limitations — now that I was sitting, my leg muscles were screaming.

And even worse:

“I have nothing.”

Patience sat down hard in the office chair. “Nothing?” She echoed.

I shook my head. All of those hours absorbing information, looking for something — anything — that would help, and I had nothing more than what Patience had already dug up on her own. There are over a hundred different types of cancer, and human scientists only had a cure for a handful of them. Even then, the success rate depended on how soon the cancer was caught.

The papers from the hospital said that Lizzy had a type of leukemia that was usually found in adults. They had tried all of the usual treatments, but none of them had worked. Now, the doctors were basically just doing their best to make her comfortable.

“Okay.” Patience rolled the office chair closer to me. “So—” Lifting one of my feet into her lap, she worked off the sock and shoe and began rolling the leg of my jeans up. “—The library had nothing, the doctors have nothing, and we have nothing.” She began a slow massage starting at my ankle. “Tell me you have a plan, My Lord.”

“We have nothing about how she developed cancer.” I corrected her. It was getting hard to think. Between the garden and the trip to the library, my mind was buzzing with too much information and not enough rest. “I’m still working on a plan.”

“Maybe the how isn’t what we need to be focusing on?” Patience started work on my calf muscles. “The sites I found said that the leukemia cells replace the normal bone marrow cells. We could start from there, and see what we find?”

“Kindness doesn’t have bones.” I pushed my other foot in Patience’s lap.

“We have something similar though.” Patience nudged the foot off to the side, still working on the other leg. “We all have something solid at our core, mine is a type of discipline. Maggie’s is making people feel better, or more at ease. Kindness’ is giving.”

My mind buzzed louder. I pushed it down, trying to follow Patience’s line of thought. “You think something is taking away Kindness’ giving, and replacing it with…what? Leukemia cells?”

She switched legs, adding the sock and shoe to the pile with the other one. “Not sure about the leukemia cell part,” she admitted. “But something kinda like that? The doctors didn’t say she had any of those cells, just that her bone marrow was disappearing for some reason, and that was the best idea they could come up with.”

“So something is taking away her giving and replacing it with nothing?” This was beginning to remind me of a movie the garden had told me about. Something about a kingdom falling apart, and a talking mountain eating hollow rocks. I shook my head to clear it, but the image of a young girl with a riot of dark curls stayed with me. “I can’t do this right now.” I pressed my fists against my closed eyes. “None of this is making any sense, and if Chris has the same thing as Ki-Lizzy, we don’t have time to try and figure this out on our own.” I pulled my feet out of Patience’s lap. “I think it’s time we outsource.”

Patience frowned. “Outsource?”

I wrinkled my nose. “I might have the wrong word.” I shook my head again. “I need you to try and talk to the god children again. Maybe try talking to their guardians. See if they’ve noticed anything strange.”

“I can do that.” Patience tapped her fingers against her knees in thought. “I see Youth and Curiosity just about everyday in class. Excitement comes on Fridays—”

“What’s so special about Fridays?”

“Fridays are when we do ‘Show-and-Tell’,” Patience explained. “I teach kindergarten; it’s the kids’ favorite part of the week.”

Kindergarten?” I can figure out the ‘show and tell’ part, but I couldn’t figure out what Patience was doing with a garden of chi—Oh. Wait. Kindergarten. Class. Right. A class full of children — not a literal garden. I pushed myself to my feet and started to walk away.

“My Lord?”

I shook my head and kept walking. “Nope. I am done.” I pulled off the short sleeved t-shirt I was wearing, dropping it behind me as I went. “I am going to bed and not getting up until my head stops buzzing.” I unbuttoned the jeans next, pushing them down, but forgot that they were rolled halfway up my legs. I almost did a faceplant into the floor before Patience caught me.

“Here—” She rolled the pants legs back down where they were supposed to be. “Now try.” When I finally worked them off, she swiped them from the floor, tossing them over her shoulder along with the shirt I had discarded. “It’s almost five o’clock. Class doesn’t start for another couple hours. You get some rest, and I’ll let you know what I get from the kids.”

“What time does school let out?” I leaned on Patience, letting her lead me towards my chambers.

“Two forty-five. Why?”

“If I’m still sleeping when you get home, wake me up immediately — I don’t care if you have to dump a bucket of ice water on me, wake me up.” We reached the door to my rooms. I pushed away from Patience. I could make it from there. Probably. “If something is somehow depleting the core of Lizzy’s power, we need to find out what it is, and how it’s doing it — fast.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to the only person who might have some insight into this whole…whatever you wanna call it.”

“Ins—Oh, her.” Patience grimaced. “Do you really think she’ll know what’s going on?”

“I think if anyone does, it’ll be her.” I dismissed Patience with a wave, eying the two doors on each side of the room. If I remembered correctly, and at this point I honestly couldn’t be sure, the one on the right led to the bathroom. Which meant the one on the left would be the bedroom. I hoped, anyway.

I pushed open the door and almost wept in relief. I must’ve teleported to the bed, cause I didn’t remember walking across the room, but my head was on the pillow and the buzzing in my mind was getting louder as I fell into slumber. I just hoped Patience would be able to wake me up without the bucket of water.

Part 1

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