He rested his hands on the old ledger. If he closed his eyes, he could smell ash and dirt and the terrible smells from Vietnam; but he knew that the ledger was clean. The keepers would have had no reason to drop it in the kiln – if it ever stopped burning to let the ash cool – or the mud.
It was heavy in his hands, and cool. It was nondescript – much the same as he would have expected if he had actually thought about it – and somehow surprisingly innocent. It was much the same as the ledger he himself kept on his purchases and sales. The only difference was that instead of a notation of 'Louis XV cherry table' with a price beside it, it said 'Aberl, Eliam' with a number beside that signified a brand and a much greater price than a few thousand dollars and a greater tragedy than a complete set of antique silver melted down by unsuspecting owners who though it was iron.
He would not have guessed that the young man that came in with a silver tray that was once a fixture in his father's home was someone that was so much older than both silver and man. He supposed that he could have suspected if he had known Adam was back in town – you don't have to protect me from everything, Dad. I've been an adult for a few years now – for his eyes were too old to fit him. But he was just a quiet young man, interested in things of the past. He would have said that he was well to do, but certainly not one to flaunt it.
He was probably a lot closer than he knew, what with his father's ability to save money from all of his lives and the need for funds to support his expensive habit of dying. Unless the other Immortal somehow kept his common sense about going into dark alleys at midnight to check on a noise. The first ten, or even twenty, time were forgivable when one was a doctor that took the Hippocratic Oath seriously; but after that? Surely one could learn why sounds were sincere and which were traps...
He sighed, running his hand over the paper again. He couldn't believe it. It wasn't that he was unhappy with his mum and dad – with Abigail and Henry – but there was something about those that claim you by blood. He knew nothing about them – they could have been some of the people that deserved execution for all he knew – but he still wanted to know their name. Did he have grandparents? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? Siblings? Any still alive? It would be a novel experience, given that they had never contacted Mum's for fear of Henry's secret getting out and Henry's all died two centuries before; and it was something he had always inexplicably wanted.
But he had never been able to get it. So many people had been entered into the Camps, and records had been lost, and his parents had disappeared into the past. And then the man that had forced his father to kill had walked into his shop and given him the thing he had searched for.
Henry had worried when he had found out who had come in, and would have forbidden him from seeing him if it would do any good; but he couldn't help but think: no one ever started out evil. No child was born with a knife in hand waiting to carve up people in alleys or in homes – children were the image of innocence.
Adam had to have been at one point too. Henry had been dissected, exanguinated, shot, stabbed, poisoned (albeit mostly at his own hand – but still), tortured, betrayed, abandoned...And that only in two hundred years – what had happened in Adam's past? Who had used him and abandoned him?
Where would Henry be in a thousand years? In two thousand? If he continued to isolate himself and never trust anyone, would he end the same way Adam had? Would he see nothing wrong with killing someone just because it was inevitable anyway? Would there be another kid looking for his parents that would capture his interest? Perhaps another Immortal that they would find?
He carefully, set the ledger aside, standing up and crossing the room to look out on the street. Somewhere, Adam was going to sleep or stalking the streets or doing whatever he did at night. He was waking up from nightmares to an empty house where no one was there to remind him that he was cared for once. He walked through life and saw nothing to remind him of his first life – nothing familiar in the cities and townhouses common now.
Age changed people – he could definitely attest to that. In seventy years, he changed a lot from when he was ten. He could appreciate the music and the lessons his dad had forced on him, and he could understand why they never settled. If just seventy years changed him, then how much more would two hundred or two thousand. Perhaps Adam didn't just wake up one day and decide to become the Ripper, but by the time he realised what had happened to him, it was too late to change back.
It's a slow fade when black and white will turn to grey -
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away.
People never crumble in a day...
AN: This song fit him too well to waste. However, I've written several character studies from his viewpoint, and Henry will never be objective about him; but I remembered the end of Hitler on the Half-Shelf, when Adam gives Abe the ledger and helps him find his parents. Abe certainly wasn't condoning Adam's actions – but he also clearly understood that people don't start out heartless killers. (Not that Adam is a heartless killer – but still. Henry thinks he is and the series is from his viewpoint, so all is by necessity slightly skewed.) So this one is from his viewpoint! I still can't write him... And there are actually photocopies of actual records online? I learn something new all of the time... Eliam is Adam again – my apologies, I couldn't resist the connection... And the records were in alphabetical order, so... And I know he's not the Ripper – but it works better than repeating heartless again... My apologies – this is terrible. 11-25-2015