The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2)

Ah, well, then you've never stood on a beach as the waves came crashing in, the water stretching out from you until it's beyond sight, moving and blue and alive and so much bigger than even the black beyond seems because the ocean hides what it contains.

And what exactly do you think this proves?" he spits. "You've got power, but you don't know what to do with it."
VIOLA
"Looks like I'm doing fine," I say.

Being a leader is making the people you love hate you a little more each day.

But what he's forgetting," she says. "What he's forgotting is that me and Todd, we ran halfway across this planet together, by ourselves. We beat his craziest preacher. We outran an entire army and survived being shot and beaten and chased and we bloody well stayed alive this whole time without being blown up or tortured to death or dying in battle or anything."
She takes her hand of Lee so she's balancing just against me.
"Me and Todd? Together against the Mayor?" She smiles. "He doesn't stand a chance.

Cuz how do you know yer alive if you don't hurt?

Cuz how do you know yer alive if you don’t hurt?

Dogs don't got the problems of people.
Dogs can be happy any old time.

Faith with proof is no faith at all.

He is sorry-
For everything-
For Prentisstown-
For Viola-
For Ben-
For every failure and every wrong-
For letting his pa down-
And he's looking up at me-
And he's begging me-
He's begging me-
Like I'm the only one who can forgive him-
Like it's only me who's got the power-
Todd?-
Please-
And all I can say is "Davy-"
And the fright and the terror in his Noise is too much-
It's too much-
And then it stops.
Davy slumps, eyes still open, eyes still staring back at me, eyes still asking (I swear) for me to forgive him.
And he lies there, still.
Davy Prentiss is dead.

He looks up and the loss in his Noise is so great it feels like I'm standing on the edge of an abyss, that I'm about to fall down into him, into blackness so empty and lonely there'd never be a way out.
"Todd," I say again, a catch in my voice. "On the ledge, under the waterfall, do you remember what you said to me? Do you remember what you said to save me?"
He's shaking his head slowly. "I've done terrible things, Viola. Terrible things-"
"We all fall, you said." I'm gripping his hand now. "We all fall but that's not what matters. What matters is picking yourself up again.

I AM THE CIRCLE AND THE CIRCLE IS ME.

If you ever see a war," she says, not looking up from her clipboard, "you'll learn that war only destroys. No one escapes from a war. No one. Not even the survivors.

In this world of numbness and information overload, the ability to feel, my boy, is a rare gift indeed.

It's not that you should never love something so much that it can control you.
It's that you need to love something that much so you can never be controlled.
It's not a weakness.
It's your best strength.

I was just trying to stay alive, looking for ways to find you, hoping you hadn't left me behind."
"Never," I say. "Not never."
He looks back up at me. "I'd never leave you neither."
"You promise?"
"Cross my heart, hope to die," he says, grinning shyly.
"I promise, too," I say and I smile at him. "I ain't never leaving you, Todd Hewitt, not never again.

Just cuz yer going there and I'm staying here," I say. "It don't mean we're parting."
"No," she says and I know she understands. "No, it certainly doesn't."
"I ain't parting from you again," I say, still looking at our fingers. "Not even in my head.

Never trust a politician, Todd. They have no fixed center, so you can never believe them.

Or perhaps we should just ask Todd."
I pound the glass right at his face. He doesn't even flinch.
And then she says, "Todd would never tell you. Never."
And the Mayor just looks at me.
And he smiles

My stomach sinks, my heart drops, my head feels so light I feel like I'm going to drop right to the ground.
Oh, Viola-
Viola, please-
Forgive me.
"Captain Hammar," the Mayor says and Viola's plunged into the water again, unable to not scream out in fright as down she goes.
"NO!" I shout, pressing myself against the mirror.
But the Mayor ain't even looking at her.
He's looking right at me, as if he could see me even if I was behind a brick wall.
"STOP IT!" I shout as she's thrashing again-
And more-
And more-
"VIOLA!"
And I'm pounding even tho my hands are breaking-
And Mr. Hammar is grinning and holding her there-
"VIOLA!"
And her wrist are starting to bleed from where she's pulling-
"I'LL KILL YOU!"-
I'm shouting into the Mayor's face-
With all my Noise-
"I'LL KILL YOU!"-
And still holding her there-
"VIOLA! VIOLA!"-
But it's Davy-
Of all people-
It's Davy who stops it.

She tried to kill you, Viola. She tried to blow you up... You don't owe her nothing,' he says.
But I feel his arms on me and I'm realizing things don't seem so impossible anymore. I feel Todd touching me and there's anger rising in my gut but it's not at him and I grunt and I pull myself up again, leaning on him to keep me there as I stand. 'I do owe her,' I say. 'I owe her the look on her face when she sees me alive.

So we forgive each other?" The crooked smile climbs up one more time. "Again?"
And I look right into his eyes, right into him as far as I can see, because I want him to hear me, I want him to hear me with everything I mean and feel and say.
"Always," I say to him. "Every time.

So who are you then, Todd Hewitt?" he says. "What makes you so special?"
Now that, I think, is a very good asking.

Things change, but they stay the same.

To live is to fight, to preserve life is to fight everything that man stands for.

We are the choices we make. And have to make. We aren’t anything else.

We can save the world," I say, trying to smile. "You and me.

Who told you that?" I say. "Davy Prentiss?"
He blinks. "What?"
"What do you mean what?" My voice is harder now. "Your new best friend. The man who shot me, Todd, and who you ride to work with laughing every morning."
He clenches his hands into fists.
"You've been spying on me?" he says. "Three months I don't see you, three months I don't hear nothing from you and you been spying? Is that what yer doing in your spare time when yer not blowing people up?"
"Yeah," I yell, my voice getting louder to match his. "Three months of defending you to people who'd only be too happy to call you enemy, Todd. Three months of wondering why the hell you're working so hard for the Mayor and how he knew to go right for the ocean the day after we spoke." He winces, but I keep going, thrusting out my arm and pulling up on the sleeve. "Three months wondering why you put these on women!"
His face changes in an instant. He actually calls out as if he felt the pain himself. He puts a hand to his mouth to stifle it but his Noise is suddenly washed with blackness. He moves his fingertips of his other hand within reach of the band, hovering over my skin, over the band that'll never be removed unless I lose my arm. The skin is still red, and band 1391 still trobs, despite the healing of three mistresses.
"Oh, no," he says. "Oh, no."
The side door opens and the man who let me in leans out. "Everything all right out there, Lieutenant?"
"Lieutenant?" I say.
"We're fine," Todd chokes a little. "We're fine."
The man waits for a second, then goes back inside.
"Lieutenant?" I say again, lowering my voice.
Todd's leant down, his hands on his knees, staring at the floor. "It wasn't me, was it?" he says, his voice quiet, too. "I didn't-" He gestures again at the band without looking up. "I didn't do it without knowing it was you, did I?

Yer the only friend I got, pigpiss... Ain't that the biggest tragedy you ever heard?

You love him," he says. Not an asking, just a fact.
"I do," I say. Also a fact.

You notice that he does not ask, Where am I?" says the Mayor's voice, moving out there, somewhere. "His first words are, Where is she? And his Noise says the same. Interesting.

You won't," says the Mayor, smiling again. "Everyone knows you aren't a killer, Todd."
He pushes Viola forward again -
She calls out from the pain of it -
Viola, I think -
Viola -
I grit my teeth and raise the rifle -
I cock it -
And I say what's true -
"I would kill to save her," I say.