The only sound that filled the dusky room was the gentle flip of paper, the rustle that was still comforting to him after so many years, and the lull of his breath. The only light was a flickering florescent above him and the table he sat at, its' sad beams trying to fill all of the small yet crowded room filled with shelves which brushing the ceiling intimately with their wooden tops. The man at the long table in front of the door paid no heed to these details, his eyes focused solely on the words in front of him, his long pianists' fingers brushing the pages with the care as he read. As he was about to turn a page, the light above flickered out. The corners of his mouth twitched downwards briefly before he sighed and rose from his chair only to stand on it, placing one foot on the chair and the other on the table top next to his book. With an easy familiarity, he reached up with long arms and batted at the light, sending it swaying gently from side to side as it flickered back to life and graced his hair and suit with a fine dust. He smiled at it, like it was child who had stepped out of line and stood before him ashamed. He settled back into his chair and began his task once again, turning the pages easily.
Then, something caught his eye. His hand, which had been reaching for another page corner, stopped on its' journey and froze, trembling in mid-air. In an almost unconscious manner, it was gently lowered to the table as his dark eyes scanned the two pages in front of him, again and again. Slowly he smiled, the kind of smile that if he had seen it in the mirror, he himself would have classified as mad, crazy, so far beyond sanity it had to burst from his mouth, his teeth gleaming in the faint light. It stood there upon his lips triumphant for an instant before fading into a smile. He carefully closed the thick tome and dusted its' cover absent-mindedly before standing and picking up the large book and the two much thinner novels which were at his elbow. He then tucked the three into a computer bag at his feet, flipped it over his shoulder, and walked out of the room, closing the door carefully, leaving only the still-softly swinging light in his wake and an absence of dust where he had sat.
Above, in the better lit and larger main library, the man strutted towards the main desk. There he exchanged words with the clerk there in soft German and presented the books to her. She smiled and stamped them. Then, he gave her money and after some more words, departed to another section of the library. He ducked around shelves, wove around the study tables which were sitting mostly empty at this late hour, and ignored how the setting sun hit the desks with a soft glow. He headed back to the main desk and asked the young clerk a question, throwing on his most charming smile. She smiled back, blushing, and gestured towards the door with an answer and a shy ducking of her head. He nodded, beamed at her and, thanking her as he walked, headed out the door into the warm dusk.
He walked towards an old grey-blue car and chuckled when he saw a mop of black hair pressed against the backdoor window closest to him. He knocked on the window where the hair was. The hairs' owner jumped and spun in his seat, his large yellow headphones knocked askew as they hit the window. The ruffled young man inside looked embarrassed and more than a little surprised at the man's appearance. The man just smiled kindly before raising an eyebrow. The napper rolled down the window.
"Hello, Professor." He spoke in English and, although they're in Germany, he has an American accent.
"Hello Daren." The man responded, his accent British.
"Find what you were looking for?"
The man nodded.
"Now, if you could open the driver's door?"
"Oh! Sure, sorry."
The young man, in his eagerness to make up for being caught napping, leapt for the right side door in an attempt to get the drivers' door-
And landed in the passengers' seat.
The man laughed softly at his interns' antics.
"Daren, the left side."
Daren, stretched across the middle armrest with his arms in the passenger's seat, looked less bemused then the man.
He pulled off an aerobic twist and within seconds was sitting in the driver's seat. He clicked open the door closest to the man, and then slid into the back seat. The man just chuckled again and moved in, placing his bag onto the passenger's seat.
"I know you really try to be British Daren but no matter what you do, you'll still be an American still trying to figure out the same European car."
"Oregon is pretty close to Russia though."
"No, not really. And even if it was, that's still not England."
Daren muttered something that may be considered rude in German and the man turned around to look at him.
"...Sorry you had to wait."
He's offering peace. It's not fun to have an angry intern. He discovered this the hard way.
"….It's alright Professor. Just trying to get caught up from the France-Germany time change."
The man looks sympathetic.
"And then the one from Portugal to France, no doubt." He offered to the younger man.
Daren looked up.
"And from Italy to Portugal." Daren added.
The man winced.
"And from America to Italy."
The man sighed and rested his head on the top of passengers' seat.
"And from Greece to America."
The man hit his head against the seat a couple times.
"And finally, from England to Greece."
The man looked up at his smirking intern, who been watching his boss with interest. The man rubbed the red spot on his forehead.
"And yes. I'm sorry about that too. But you didn't need to come."
Daren gives him a "teenager" look. It's a wonder he can still do it perfectly at 21.
"No, I didn't need to come. But I had to. "
"Um. Yeah. Sort of."
"….Care to explain?"
"Well, I am your intern. I'm here to study what you do. To learn from you. Can't really do that while I'm in London, and you're in Berlin, can I?"
"….I thought interns were for getting coffee."
They both laugh with an easy familiarity of an inside joke.
"Well, yeah. That too. But I'm here to learn stuff as well. I want to know about these old stories you study. The past of their authors, where they came from…"
"Yes. I know. You told me in your interview six months ago."
"So…here I am. "
"Lots of learning being done while sleeping in the back of my car."
"... That's kind, sir."
The man simply smiled and turned back to the wheel.
"Well, get all the sleep you can get. We're going back to the University."
A sigh of relief could be heard clearly from the back seat.
"Thank goodness. And I thought I was wasting my unimportance here. Now I can waste it in London. No better place to waste things, as my father once said."
Daren pulled his head phones back on before tugging on his seat belt and laying down across the entire back seat, his long legs crossed at the ankles, hands behind his head.
The man chuckled, shaking his head, before starting up the car.
"How wrong you are, Daren. You are far from unimportant. Yes. You are very important indeed to the coming storm."
And as the mad grin once again retook his face, he shifted into first gear and drove off towards the airport, towards the orange sun on the horizon. Soon, no clue was left of their existence there but the fumes in his wake and the girlish smile still on the library clerks' face.