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"On the dock, over there," Arthur replied, pointing at the concrete slaps in the distance, "Jasper and Henry had run into each other first, and I went and said hello afterward. The paintball gun interested them a bit as well." He watched as Henry fell in the distance, curling up on the sandy beach, tucking up into himself. The sight softened Arthur a little, made his heart rustle a bit, sending a short pulse of emotion into his body, but it soon faded away, lost in the ocean waves.

Jasper made it over to Henry and knelt beside him, checking to see if he was okay, probably saying something along the lines of "Everything's fine, we'll make it," or something. It irritated Arthur a little, about just how easy it was to see that things were not, in fact, going to wind up okay. It irritated him even more to see that Henry hadn't accepted it as easily as he had.

Arthur had a lot of experience in distancing himself from the present. He wasn't sure if Henry had the same background, but if he had to guess, the answer there was negative. Still, despite the small degrees of annoyance he felt, he couldn't help but feel, on some level, sorry for Henry. There were probably people on the island who had done something wrong - Arthur knew that not everyone at Cochise was the picture of virtue and good will; He had to know that to make sure that Marie didn't fall in with the wrong crowd. Henry was a good kid, though. He didn't deserve what was going to wind up happening to him.

In his own mind, Arthur had to make sure that in walking the fine line of thinking about what would happen to other people, he wouldn't cross over into the territory of what would happen to himself. Once he crossed into that way of thinking, there was no way of coming out of it. Consciously, he just saw this as an outing to an island. A pleasant day, all things considered.

"How about you?" He asked Coleen, "Where d'you come from?" He sneezed into his sleeve, a slight breeze tickling his nose. When he looked up, it took him a split second to fall back into his rose-colored view of the world around him. The colors of the world seemed, for an instant, just a little more washed out. He blinked, and everything was back in its right place.

Except for Henry, still on the sand.

"Poor kid," Arthur muttered to himself, shaking his head and dragging his feet a little bit as he walked.
~~~~~ Creativity's Burning Pyre ~~~~~



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