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Some research into our two mysterious friends - 2
From the other side...

 A darkened room in an obscure Cambridge college.. the thick curtains are drawn tight, and not a single beam of light can enter; the room is lit only by a small stump of a candle.

 Two students are in the room, lying on the floor a little way apart, surrounded by heaps of paper, writing in silence. Every so often one reaches over and makes a small correction in the other's scribblings. They rarely need to talk; they understand each other well enough for each to know what the other is thinking.

 Besides, talking right now would hurt too much..

 It seemed like such a good idea at the time.. why fight over a woman, when the decision should be hers anyway?

 "I am not ready for anyone.. just yet..
..may we not be friends?"

 So in the meantime - alternate nights... wearing the mask, so that looks wouldn't come into the equation.

 ..and then /he/ showed up.

 A student put his pen down with a snap. The other frowned at him.

 "You're thinking about it again. Stop it. What has happened, has happened, and nothing may be done about it at present."

 "But I killed him.. I have killed a man.
..and Sal - I have lost us Sal.."

 "It was not your fault, that last. Sal felt for him what she never could for us - we could only ever be a friend to her, the eccentric masked student.. nothing more.

 And the other.. from what you have told me, that was an accident. And it is by no means certain he is dead."

 "We could always.."

 "Don't even think about it."

 "There was a reason why we were given It.."

 "..but surely not something like this?"

 "..if not this, then what?"

 They were silent then awhile, the thoughts of each following their own path.. the one whose turn it had been to wear the Mask the night before was once more going over the events of that night in his head, agonizing over his momentary loss of self-control that had caused the present situation..

 ..the other was looking at The Present, in its place on the bedside table.

 And remembering that time in Trinity.

 "This... is for saving my life."

 "What is it?"

 "It holds power inside it. A little piece of me that you helped save. A day of life. A single wish, a second chance.. just the one. Use it wisely.."

 The student shook his head. He could still see the old Master's face.. old? Some of those Trinity fellows were positively ancient...

 Coming to a sudden decision, he picked up the little black pebble from the table. Smooth, almost slippery in his hand, except for the engraving on one side.. he traced the little grey feather with his finger.

 And handed the pebble to his friend.

 "Here.. it's yours far more than mine. Always has been. Use it if you need to. Perhaps this, too, is right.."

 The other stared at him, taking the pebble..

 ..clasped it tight..

 "Another chance. That is all I ask.. another chance, another day.. another life. The bit of life stored here.. to use it to relive that day. To maybe set things right."

 They held hands, thinking together as always.

 "For Sal.. that she may be happy."

 There was a flash of light. Darkness followed.

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