Manchester, slick with rain. Light falls like glass. It glows, bringing every grainy surface of Deansgate into sharpened focus, the air wiped clear, bringing it to solidity as every surface reflects all others. The streets are busy, dark huddled figures moving quickly inbetween each other, focused inwards. Behind the reflection of a Starbucks window Aldervale watches for the mathematician while nursing a cool, flavourless latte which films his mouth and he is only grateful he did not bother with their tea. He wipes his forehead, bitter with memory.
Aldervale has plenty of time for contemplation when he is on watch but finds he has nothing left to think about. Sometimes, when partnered with someone, he is amazed at the thoughts that spill from their mouths, the joins and connections that seem to come so easily to them, the passages of reading and learning that seem to mesh together. Instead he finds he has nothing to add. He is blank in the presence of others, unable to communicate, afraid to, really, because he does not know how. He is a perfect watcher, he knows this. He fumbles with the grimy package in his jacket pocket, seeking reassurance that it is still there, wrapped in sticky newspaper.
Across the road the mathematician emerges from the travel agency, bitter at the weather and shaking his tiny umbrella into the air. Aldervale does not bother finishing the coffee. He stands and leaves, pulling up his hood over his thinning hair. His hand casually unwraps the package, pulling out the coin within while holding onto the plastic that offers a last layer of protection. Crossing the road, ducking behind the deep red glow of traffic lights, he falls into step behind the mathematician looking for a way past the couple that are a walking barrier between them. His chance comes as they reach the next crossroads. He steps forwards and around, as though he were any other commuter in a hurry to get home, while taking advantage of the crush to get close, to slip the coin into the mathematician's pocket.
The mathematician's umbrella knocks him. THe mathematician turns to apologise. Aldervale shrugs his head with what he hopes is a smile and turns away, looking for the light to change. He steps into the road, growling with traffic and the growing winter dark, muttering the activation mantra. He feels the little veil of maya slip, the hidden world behind suddenly slips through. Rain falls from his hood into his eyes, washing it away.