Weird things began to happen over the next few weeks. Toby and Lia’na disappeared and Gishan wouldn’t talk about it. He walked around like he was a dead man and barely even talked to anyone. One day at lunch, Tom was sitting with Greggor and Jayme when Gishan came in.
Tom was talking to Jayme, “Did you hear about what happened in Holland at the Elven reservation?”
“I know,” Jayme replied, “I understand while people don’t like elves, but a full on terrorist attack?”
“Heh, serves them right.” Reggor replied. “I could tell you stories of how they treated my people.”
Tom didn’t respond, fully aware that he had his own predjudices against elves and didn’t feel like getting into a fight. That’s when he saw Gishan walk into the room.
“Hey Gishan!” Tom called out. “What’s going on?”
Gishan came over, “Hey guys…”
Jayme looked up at him and smiled warmly, “Hey man, how are you?”
Gishan sat down next to them, but didn’t say anything. He looked like he was on the verge of crying. Tom was completely unnerved as he’d never seen Gishan like this before, “Gishan, what’s going on, man?”
Gishan sucked down a few quivering breaths as he struggled to speak. He was only able to get out two words before a tear fell down his cheek, “Lia’na’s dead…”
Tom’s eyes widened, “What?”
Jayme looked over at Tom, “Toby’s girlfriend…”
Tom nodded as he put his arm around Gishan, “Buddy, I don’t know what to say… how’s Toby handling it?”
Gishan shook his head, “Toby’s walking around like a zombie.”
Tom put his hand on his forehead and closed his eyes, “As if she hadn’t been through enough already.”
Reggor sat back and sipped his drink, “What happened?”
“I don’t really have all the details.” Gishan replied. “All I know is that one of her own kind killed her. They haven’t told me anything else yet. Even my girl knows more than I do about this.”
Jayme kept her eyes locked on Gishan, “It sucks man.”
Tom pulled down a deep breath before speaking, “Is Toby back at his condo yet? Do you want me to stop in and check on him?”
Gishan shook his head, “No. He’s supposed to be back tonight. I’m going to go see him and Giselle is meeting us there. I don’t think he really wants to see anyone.”
“I don’t blame him.” Tom replied. “I doubt he’d want to see me anyway.”
Gishan stood up and looked back at the chef’s stations. A grimace appeared on his face before he spoke, “Sorry guys… I don’t think I’m up for eating. I’m going head up to Saugus and try to intercept Toby. Fuck only knows what I’m going to see when I get there.”
Jayme nodded, “All right Gishan, keep us posted.”
“Will do.” Gishan replied before walking away.
Reggor watched him leave the hall and sighed, “What was so special about this elf girl anyway? First Toby and now Gishan isn’t in the mood to eat?”
Tom frowned, “From what I understand, she brought out the best in Toby. I really can’t believe that this happened. It’s…”
Tom couldn’t wrap his fingers around it and stood up, “Sorry guys, I’ve gotta go.”
“Not you too?” Reggor asked in an annoyed tone.
Tom shook his head, “No, I just have to do something.”
“Like what?” Jayme asked.
Tom didn’t answer. He just turned around quickly and walked out. Jayme stood up with a confused look on her face as she called after Tom, “Hey, what’s going on, Tom?”
When he didn’t reply, Jayme tossed her leftovers in the trash and ran after Tom. She ran down the steps and outside into the cool afternoon air. The breeze caressed her skin as she looked around.
Tom was standing off to the side of the building, looking out on the rest of the campus. He looked like he was deep in thought. Ordinarily, Jayme would have just left him alone, but she was concerned and wanted an answer, “Tom!”
Tom flinched as he turned and looked at her. She marched up next to him with an annoyed look, “What is it? Don’t just run off on me. What’s going on?”
“I just can’t believe it.” Tom replied. “I didn’t know this girl and really didn’t have anything to do with her. Why is this bothering me?”
Jayme smiled, “Because someone you care about is hurting right now… and you probably feel a little guilty.”
Tom nodded, “Guilty… for making her short life more difficult.”
Jayme shook her head, “She’d all but forgiven you, why can’t you forgive yourself?”
“It’s not that easy.” Tom replied. “I was part of something awful. I don’t care if she has forgiven me, that doesn’t absolve me of what I did.”
Jayme shrugged, “Well I don’t know what you want to do, man. You need to find some way of getting over it.”
As though someone called to her, Jayme looked out on the horizon, “And something tells me that you may soon find a way.”
Tom’s narrowed as he looked at her, “What are you talking about?”
Jayme turned away with a dismissive smile, “Don’t worry about it.”
“No.” Tom shot back. “You don’t get off that easily. You always give these cryptic responses to people. What do you know that I don’t.”
Jayme chuckled, “That would be the longest book ever written and I simply don’t have time to read it to you.”
“Oh ha ha…” Tom replied sarcastically. “Come on, spit it out.”
“I honestly don’t know.” Jayme said in a convincing tone. “All I know is that something big is going to happen, and soon. It’s just a feeling that I have.”
“Whatever.” Tom said as he looked back at the dorm.
“You done for the day?” Jayme asked.
“Yeah.” Tom replied. “I think I need to lay down. I’m worn out.”
Jayme smiled, “All right, well I’ll see you later. Catch me on my cell if you decide you want to do something later.”
“Will do.” Tom replied.
The two went their separate ways. Tom headed back to his room and Jayme to hers. The moment that Tom got inside and was safe from prying eyes, he collapsed. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He felt so bad about what had happened. It had eaten away at him for a very long time, and now to find out that Lia’na was gone, made him feel even worse.
Part of Tom wanted to call Jayme, as she was one of the few people that still spoke to him, but he didn’t want the same tired lecture that he’d been getting since February. It was not what he needed at that point. No one else would be any help either.
Having little other choice, Tom turned in for the night, knowing full well that he probably wouldn’t be able to sleep. He lay back on his mattress, unable and unwilling to let his mind rest. As far as he was concerned, this was his only method of penance at this point.