There was a soft tapping on her door followed by Thomas’s voice. “Sarah? I’m sorry. Can we talk?”
She got out of her chair and opened the door. “Come in.”
After walking back to the center of the room, they sat down facing one another. Sarah waited for Thomas to speak.
“I did not mean for that to happen. I certainly never wanted to cause you harm. I had brought back a piece of the attacker’s clothes. The stasis field in which it was suspended collapsed unexpectedly.”
Sarah interrupted Thomas’s uncharacteristic wordy explanation. “And that caused the explosion?”
“Yes. Basically, additional matter suddenly appeared in the world. All the matter that had been in that spot was violently displaced.”
“This was all part of your investigation into the attack on your master’s house?”
“Yes.” His chattiness was gone; Thomas obviously believed he had explained himself fully.
“Did you at least learn anything?”
“No. I never had the opportunity to study it.”
“You realize Matthew is ready to leave. He wants me to go with him.” The Mistress would not approve of this tack. Even if Sarah didn’t intend to follow through with the threat, this interference with Thomas’s decisions went against her intent if not her explicit orders. But Sarah was more interested in stopping Matthew from leaving, and she hoped this would push Thomas away from the edge.
“Maybe it would be good for you leave.” Thomas avoided her gaze.
Hiding her surprise, Sarah responded immediately. “I don’t want to leave. I want you to let this obsession to go. If you are really sorry, then you need to stop before anyone gets harmed again.”
“You will stay if I stop investigating the attack?”
“I don’t expect you to stop looking into it. I want you to stop messing with time. You’ve proven it’s dangerous, and you need to quit doing it.”
“I am not sure I can do that,” Thomas said after a few moments.
“I merely want to be honest with you.”
“Well, honestly, the next time you might kill me. Or Matthew. Or even yourself. Is it worth it? Will you be sorry then? If you would be, just don’t do it in the first place.”
Thomas sat in silence for a bit. “You are right. I need to think about this.”
“You do that.” Sarah kept the exasperation out of her voice.
Thomas stood and left without saying anything else. Maybe she had gotten through to him. If she stayed, she was risking her life, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave just yet.
Walking down the hallway, Sarah wanted to talk to Matthew about her conversation with Thomas. As soon as she knocked, his door swung open. Inside, it was immediately obvious that the room had been vacated; nothing of Matthew’s remained. On the coffee table was a note addressed to her.
I hope you understand that I can’t stay. He has shown us that he cares only about himself, and that he will hurt anyone to accomplish his goals. I wish you would leave, but it’s your decision. If you ever do leave, come find me.
After reading it, she crumpled the paper and threw it away. Even if Thomas did stop playing with time, it wasn’t enough to fix anything. And now they needed new members if the house was to survive.