Jenkins remembers one Librarian, fresh and young and eager. She'd been quick to explore her new environment and had run into him one day back when he'd still been permitted entrance to the Library. They'd talked for hours about magic and history and Jenkins hadn't enjoyed himself nearly so much in such a long time. He'd found out a week later that she'd died on her third mission out.
He remembers a couple, a Librarian and his Guardian. Middle aged, calm, confident, and determined the both of them. The Guardian had died defending his Librarian, as was his due, but it ended up being for naught. Wracked by grief, the Librarian had gotten careless in the Library, killed by one of the artifacts stored there a week later. It had only been eleven months since he'd first walked through the Library's doors.
There are countless others, countless names and faces and Librarians who have come and gone. It's easier, to stay out here in the Annex and go a decade or two without seeing another person. To go a decade or two without having to deal with the loss of another Librarian (and another, and another, and another).
Flynn Carsen has lasted ten years, and from what Jenkins has heard he's been an exemplary Librarian, but Jenkins sees his excited energy, his passion for learning, and remembers the names and faces of those who came before him. Ten years is a very long time for a Librarian, and it says something about how talented Flynn is, but it doesn't change much for Jenkins (try a hundred years, and then maybe they'll talk. No one else is ever going to live that long).
He looks at the Librarian, inserted into his life once more, and thinks maybe today, maybe this mission. Maybe next week or the week after that.
And the worst thing is, when he looks at Flynn, he knows the other man is thinking it too. Knows the other man is aware of how he continually skirts death, of how every day could be his last.
Jenkins had seen it in their very first meeting: Flynn had come to him bleeding from a mortal wound and yet hadn't faltered in his mission. The only thing that'd given him pause had been the loss of the Library, not his own life. Even dying, Flynn had been passionate and excited, a whirlwind that had run through Jenkins' perfectly ordered life and thrown in a bit of chaos. Because Flynn Carsen had long since accepted that he would die as a Librarian, and had long since decided that the threat of death wouldn't stop him from fulfilling his duty, even if he was already dying.
So Jenkins is reluctant to let these people into his life, reluctant to open his doors to the Librarian, because he looks at them and can't help but think maybe tomorrow.
And now he's got three Librarians-in-Training, as the Librarian calls them, working out of his annex. They're young and excited and curious about the world of magic that they've been thrown into but all Jenkins can think when he looks at them is they're all going to die. Flynn is right, that it's monumentally stupid to throw potential librarians into the mess that is the world and expect them to survive without any training, but there is no sort of training for this type of job. There is no magical orientation that would stop Librarians from getting killed.
Sure, Flynn has at least left the Guardian with them, and they get the easier tasks compared to the challenges he faces – but is there really an easy task for a novice Librarian?
Jenkins lets them into his Annex because he's got no choice, and because even if they are going to die one day, he believes in the Librarian (whoever that happens to be), and he wants the Library back too, but he can't always stand to be around them. Can't be waiting for them to return only to see that only three of the four return home (or just two, or maybe only one. Maybe one day – none of them).
He's not going to watch a Librarian die. Not again.
AN: Not super happy with the beginning but, eh, what are you going to do? I'd love it if you could leave a review - thanks for reading!