Thomas nods once more at the supervisor’s reply, keeping his thoughts to himself for once. Simply continuing to listen as he watches William open the drawer and retrieve his
pet partner feathered coworker, hidden gaze following the dark one’s movements. Knowing very well that he is using Lewis as a distraction, and a focus to keep calm.
“I understand why you are protective of him; I’m curious to see his records, if he is as talented as you say he is. They likely thought it another way to punish you, by allowing you to take one with thorns, but it would not be the first time you used what they call a disadvantage to the betterment of your Library.” Nodding once more as William continues. “You expect and accept nothing but the best from yourself and those under you, especially those on your personal team. He sounds like an exceptional young man, and I know that there is none better suited to show him how to make the best of himself and his situation than you.” A rare compliment from the owl. “Why did you choose Slingby for his partner?” Knowing very well that the hawk does nothing without his reasons, and overthinks everything before even the smallest of decisions.
William is indeed using his feathered coworker as a distraction tactic. The board member’s treatment of this young reaper in question makes his blood boil, but becoming too angry only causes undue suffering to himself. Headaches and otherwise. He pets along the pigeon’s back as the bird happily eats the seeds from his other hand. The supervisor nods his head gently when the Undertaker speaks of understanding his reasons for being protective. It is a nice feeling to be understood without having to explain himself. Especially when the topic is so sensitive. “I have his record book on hand if you would like to read through it.” Access to such personal information on his reapers is not something he readily permits, however for this trusted elder shinigami he negates such rules. The dark haired reaper retrieves Alan’s ongoing book from a drawer in his desk, and hands it over to the Undertaker. Knowing that the silver haired man will take special care of such a delicate and important book, without having to be instructed to do so.
He exhales with a light sigh at the mention of the problematic board members that continue to cause trouble, “I am tired of their games. ..And truthfully Thomas, I am just plain tired.” He looks to his predecessor, a rare unguarded moment showing in his eyes of how truly exhausted he is, and not just physically. “This ….. ‘condition’ isn’t just painful.. it’s exhausting, draining, and some days it takes all my focus not to just collapse. I do demand the best from myself, which is why I don’t give in. And you are correct, I expect no less from my team.” His expression softens when he realizes the grey owl’s compliment, nodding his head once with a look of gratitude. “Thank you.”
The supervisor pours more seed into his hand for the spoiled pigeon before he continues, “Slingby has been without a stable partner ever since he joined my team. He has been in a ‘floating’ position, filling in when a dual reaping job was required, but another reaper’s partner was otherwise busy elsewhere. He claimed he was happy doing this, and for a while I think he was. Though more and more recently he has been complaining of the noise his neighbors produce; Grell and Ronald. Granted, they both can be terribly loud and annoying at times, especially when purposely trying to provoke. But, I began to suspect Mr. Slingby wasn’t merely annoyed, he was jealous of their partnership, and was lonely. I thought it was time that he be given a stable partner, and that is when Mr. Humphries was delivered into my Library. Upon reviewing their records, I believe they will both be compatible in time. They are both in need of a caring, trustworthy, and knowledgeable partner.”
He leans back in his chair, scooping the pigeon up in his hand now that its seeds have been eaten. “I plan to encourage Alan to explain to his new partner of the difficulties he is facing. It would be a terrible thing for an attack to happen, and have Mr. Slingby not able to understand what is taking place, and what could be done. …. However, because of this, I feel like a hypocrite. … Ronald so far believes my own difficulties are merely migraine headaches, which I do suffer from. .. I wish to tell him, but I haven’t thought of a delicate way to phrase it yet. The last thing I want to do is frighten him. I wish to have Grell informed as well… but with his flare for dramatics I am afraid he would instantly make things seem even worse than they actually are.”
Thomas feels as if he sometimes knows William better than he knows himself, able to sense his hawk’s anger from the set of his shoulders, from the clench of his jaw and the steel in his gaze. He gives a slight nod when he is offered Alan’s book. “I would like to see it, thank you.” Accepting it, not opening it for the moment, knowing that William is not through speaking what is on his mind. “The masters of their little game will soon be no more, hawk. Once they are removed, the pawns will learn to think for themselves. You do not have much longer to wait, and you will have your much-needed rest.” Trailing his fingers over the leather of the small book he holds. “I am doing my own research on the condition, and I plan on paying a visit to an old friend soon who should be able to tell me more of the times when it was used as punishment, and what was done in the days before glasses were used as protection.” A slight smile and a nod of acknowledgement is given when William thanks him.
Watching William as he continues to feed Lewis, he falls silent once more as he listens to his reasoning as to why he chose Humphries’ partner, slightly surprised to find out the falcon and kestrel are his neighbors. He gives another nod. “I know that Slingby must be exceptional if you brought him onto your team, especially considering he did not come with a partner. What happened to the one you selected for him in training? It is a bit surprising to see an unpartnered street reaper that has graduated Academy.” Opening the book’s cover and touching the paper within. “I hope, both for you and the two of them, that their partnership works as well as you foresee it being. It is lonely work we do, and all too often, people take their partners for granted.”
He lifts his head once more at the motion of William’s leaning back, expression remaining serious as he listens to his hawk speak, focused not only on his words, but his voice, the flashes of expression in his eyes. Closing the book quietly and setting it on William’s desk for now, he stands and moves around to where William sits, crouching and resting his hand on William’s forearm. “You do not have to feel like a hypocrite, hawk. Your kestrel is young, very young; even those of our falcon’s generation and older know no more of the Thorns than rumours, superstition, falsehoods half-whispered to scare those not yet graduated from Academy. They see the Thorns as a death sentence, death for death, even more remorseless and unforgiving than we are trained to be. They both deserve to know, yes. However, this Library as a whole could use an end to the rumours and falsehoods, and know the truth about the Thorns, even if they need never know the identity of those among them that have them. You have proven that they are not your death knell, and that even with them doing their best to hinder your work and your efforts, you have been an exemplary leader. I chose you as my successor for a reason, even if you ended up taking over in a way I would never have chosen. Let me do a bit more research while you schedule mandatory meetings for each shift, and I will speak to the groups myself as to the truth about Thorns. They will not dispute such information from me.” A corner of his mouth turns up. “Being a legend has its advantages. As far as telling our own young ones, let them find out the truth about the Thorns before we tell them about your own experience with it. It will have to be done carefully, gently, and as unthreateningly as possible. They have only now been able to connect with you intimately; they must understand that you have no intention of leaving them any time soon.”