“Make it quick, mortal.”
He balled his hands into fists, and reminded himself that he needed to stay calm. It had taken the spirits a while to agree to this meeting. Now that he was here he wouldn’t waste the opportunity.
He had already achieved more than any other human alive, had asked for more than any other human alive – and he’d been granted it. He needed no favours this time, only an answer. A simple thing.
He had promised her.
He hadn’t expected to become a part of their family. If he could help by asking one simple question, then he would.
“Was it Sophia’s fault that Emery Dwyer died?”
In front of him, the spirit broke into a grin. The spirit inside him moved around like an excited child in a bouncy castle.
His palms were sweating, and his forehead was wet.
“You beg an audience for this? You used to be more ambitious, mortal.”
“I’m not here for myself.”
The spirit’s grin widened, and he no longer knew what he was dealing with. Most spirits were curious, but there were others. Benevolent ones. Malevolent ones. Once he had confused the spirit that used him as a host as the latter, but in time he had realised that he’d been wrong. The spirit he shared a body with – the spirit that had kept him alive for so long – was merely curious.
He didn’t think that the one he was talking to now was merely curious.
“No, you are here for her. Another mortal. The reason the universe is in turmoil.”
“In turmoil?” He’d known when he had asked his favour many years ago that he was manipulating things out of reach to humans. Resurrecting the dead wasn’t within their abilities for a reason, yet he had asked – no, begged – it regardless. He had believed her family to be what the world needed. Had he been wrong?
“Your little experiment has shaken the universe and the stars themselves, mortal. What did you expect?”
He swallowed. That was a very good question. What did he expect? Not this.
But his time was limited. He could only stay for so long, and he wouldn’t leave without an answer.
“Was it her fault? Is she responsible for his death?”
The spirit laughed. “You are asking the wrong questions, mortal.”
He thought for a second, and grew cold when he considered the impossible. “Will the universe recover?”
A hundred grins appeared around him, and for the first time he saw the spirit world as it truly was. He was merely a visitor, a guest. This was their home, and they were everywhere and in all things.
“It has already started, mortal. The universe was… unsure, when we gave her life. It was unsure, too, when we halted her ageing. But the universe is larger than you can imagine. It can deal with all manner of things, and it can recover from worse.”
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
“She is not to blame for the man’s death. Not directly. Her actions sent smaller ripples through the nebulae than her mother’s actions, or her grandmother’s.”
He felt dizzy at the implications. “Does this mean that she can find love, and grow old with someone?
The grins around him dimmed. “No. Not her. It is too early.”
“But one day? Will her son be able to?”
“I do not know, mortal. I only know that your request and our granting it has forever changed the way of things. I cannot say if that is for better or for worse, only that it is.”
He smiled, despite it all. Sophia wouldn’t get her happily ever after, but perhaps it was possible for Gary. How could this be for the worst? Love was always a good thing. The spirits didn’t understand – they didn’t love as humans did – but he understood.
One day his family would find love, and he looked forward to the day it happened.