Jul. 30th, 2016

jaimemieux: (pic#6705182)
Combeferre can’t believe what the woman is telling him.

“She never came to get little Sybil,” the calm, no-nonsense voice of the nurse who runs the hospital day-care comes through his phone as clearly as if she was standing beside him. Sybil had taken Sybbie in with her to work that day to allow Combeferre to take some time for him to run errands on his own. “You haven’t heard anything from her, have you? You must know that you are supposed to call us to schedule a late pick-up time-“

“Yes, yes, I know,” Combeferre answers swiftly, imagining a dozen terrifying scenarios - an accident, a car crash, a sudden, terrible illness.

“I just don’t understand it. Sybil isn’t the kind of person to show up late for no reason. Are you sure-“

“Yes, I know,” Combeferre snaps, and then takes a breath to steady himself. No need to take his panic out on someone who is entirely innocent of wrongdoing. “Thank you,” he adds. “I will be there shortly.”

The mystery - and Combeferre’s panic - only deepens at the hospital. Taking Sybbie with him, he asks at the nurse’s station, among Sybil’s coworkers and friends.

“She never came back from lunch,” says one.

“I didn’t even see her this morning,” says another.

A third nurse, one he knows to be a good friend of Sybil’s, places her hand on Combeferre’s arm. “Her locker’s cleared out. It’s like she just…disappeared. It’s crazy.”

Like she just disappeared. Combeferre’s heart sinks, and his skin goes clammy. The nurse in question, Cynthia, might not mean to be so literal. He has never been able to pin down what any Darrow natives believes about their neighbors and friends who appear and disappear without warning. But he knows in his soul that she has spoken the truth. Sybil is gone.

He is clutching Sybbie tightly, and the girl begins to squirm. “Let me take her,” says Cynthia carefully, that practicality that makes her such a good nurse and a good friend arising to Sybil arising at just the right moment. Combeferre nods wordlessly. “I’ll look after her, and you go find Sybil. I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding.”

Combeferre nods again, but he doesn’t believe it, and he isn’t sure Cynthia does either. He leaves nurse and baby standing under the harsh lights of the break room and leaves the hospital. He knows exactly where he has to go.

Courfeyrac opens his door after Combeferre’s second knock, his eyes going wide to see his friend looking so pale and rumpled. “Combeferre!” he exclaims, all but dragging the man into his apartment. “Marius, get another wine glass. Our friend here looks like he has seen a ghost."

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Henri Combeferre

March 2017

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