Akovu's answer is straight-forward: “Girl, you aren't capable of telling my story. You wouldn't understand my head even if you could get into it. Don't embarrass yourself by trying.”
I try to wheedle him, play to his vanity and remind him that he that only he has all of pieces to this puzzle. Who could be better suited to tell the story of his brilliance than he is?
He is too smart for my ploy, and doesn't bother reminding me, only snorts and says he's got better things to do before turning off the link.
Amorn doesn't want to take my link, I can tell by the number of times it takes to connect, and resists the idea of any role at all. She's had enough of 'fame,' and wants to quietly be left alone to solve the problems she's found. She's careful about what she says, clearly giving each statement a lot of thought: “I think you could find someone better,” she says, finally. “My headspace is... not a happy place to be, and I don't trust myself to tell the tale correctly.”
She's lost a lot of weight, I notice, and there are circles under her eyes. There's a weary, guarded look to her, and when my link sounds off to remind me of something on the schedule, she startles.
I promise that I will be fair and even-handed – I want people to relate to my POV character, and I would give her a chance to get the story out the way she deserved.
Her face grows hard at that promise, and I get the feeling she's heard it before. “Don't bother,” she says in disgust. “Go write the story you'll write.”
I remind her that she has a role, whether she wants it or not, and wonder if I imagine the haste with which she closes the link, or the tears that might have been welling up in her eyes.
Afareiru laughs when I approach. I am shy with him – I don't know him yet, and he is someone else's creation, but he is the most eager of the players so far: “You're looking for a red-head with a destiny,” he jokes. “I'm going to be a hero, and they'll sing about me for generations.”
I refrain from explaining to him that they won't sing with words, not where he will be remembered, and wonder if I'll have to justify that in my story. I make a few notes on the topic while he goes on: “I'm a good choice,” he tries to persuade me. “You know I'll be there at the climax of the story, and I'm in a good place to observe a lot of the... less charismatic players. I can be charitable, and you can already tell I have a sense of humor.”
I ask him a few background questions, which he answers with shrugs. “You make it up,” he tells me, unhelpfully. “I don't care!”
If I had a pencil, I'd probably chew on the end of it. He's cooperative, which is more than I can say for the other two I've interviewed, but I'm not finding traction with him.
“Come on,” he says coaxingly. “You've even got my offspring already in place. You're always looking for neat ways to tie things together, you know, and you do love red hair!”
I have to laugh – he's undeniably charming, and I promise him that he'll have a strong role before I am able to escape the conversation.
Diru has been expecting my link since I closed the connection with Amorn. “Did you run out of names that started with 'A'?” he asks me, with an upraised eyebrow. I am surprised, somehow, to find out how handsome he is, but not at all surprised when he jumps in to defend Amorn.
“Leave her out of it, if you can,” he says seriously. “She's been through enough, already, and doesn't need more publicity.”
When I explain that I can't simply pretend she didn't play the part that she has, he nods, and doesn't take offense. “Just go gently,” he advises. “She's a little fragile right now.”
I suspect it's obvious to anyone how much he loves her, and ask about their relationship. He blushes, and it's adorable. They are lovers, I coax out of him, and I suspect there's an interesting story about how that started to be dug out.
He's more willing to talk about other things in his life. He's an artist, I knew, but I didn't realize the scope at which he liked to work – his passion is massive, institutional sculptures, using primitive methods and recycled old industrial scrap. He paints, and writes poetry, on the side – we divert from the topic to talk shop about the universal (apparently!) problems in reproduction and censorship. He is easy-going, glosses over his own current problems and concentrates on the others around him. On the topic of Akovu, he becomes evasive. I get the feeling he doesn't like to speak ill of his current benefactor, but also doesn't appreciate the man much. Still bruised from our own discussion, I have some sympathy for the point of view, but I wonder if there's something deeper there.
“What would you be like as a POV character?” I have to ask him, after we've talked a little about Akovu's estate and the strange menagerie that the man keeps. (Diru has no idea the significance of the snow-unicorns yet, of course, and finds the zoo quite mystifying, especially since the old man is clearly disgusted by animals.)
Diru blinks at the question.
“I like to think I'd be fair,” he says quietly. “But I don't know for sure if I can be.”
It's an honest answer. I like his honesty.
“I don't know if I'm the best choice,” he admits, after drumming fingers on the surface of the desk. “I'm not really important to things.”
I like that about him, too. I remind him that an observational character is important, and also bring up his connection to Amorn. His look, at that, is complicated and I'm not familiar enough with his features yet to guess what it means. “I can't just be 'someone's guy,' if you're going to write a better-than-mediocre novel,” he tells me, uncomfortably.
“Can I get more than that out of you?”
He chews his lip, then nods. “I think you can,” he finally says. “I hope so.”
So do I.
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