Had to keep the art fast and simple this time because I am sick and also hurt my back :( Send me your telepathic sympathy waves. Thanks for reading!
Doorman shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Isaac was suspicious by nature, and assumed the worst when secrets were involved. The truth would be a gentler sting than leaving him to his imagination.
“When you brought your friend Max here,” Doorman said softly, losing hesitation’s foothold to the blue of Isaac’s eyes, “the spirit he draws power from briefly spoke to me through him. We... have a history. Not a very pleasant one—”
Isaac shook his head. “Wait, wait. What
His mentor raised a hand to assuage him, and Isaac flinched, which sent a shock of shame through Doorman. “I’ve lived... I’ve lived a long, imperfect life, Isaac, and—and that means I’ve made enemies. As I’ve told you, I am hiding in this manse.” He tried to keep his voice level, but each new flash of anxious energy in Isaac spread to him and back again, leading to a steady escalation. “It’s not your fault this spirit found me, but—”
“Who said it was my fault??” Isaac shot back.
“It isn’t your fault—”
“No, it is and you’re forgiving me. That’s different.” Isaac rose from his chair, pacing a few distracted steps.
Doorman felt the pull of a familiar precipice. He stammered through the first of the words he’d compulsively planned in hindsight after each of his past failures. “I—I only wish to keep you safe—”
Isaac suddenly spun, and the air in his path popped with the low crackle of electric potential. His expression, now fixed upon his mentor, was one of hurt and doubt.
“...That is the wish,” came Doorman’s hushed correction, “I place above all others.”
Isaac balled his fists. “So I’m in danger?” His eyes’ intensity was held back from his words, the question just a trickle past the dam on his emotion.
“If my old foe’s designs are as they were, then yes. Yes, I... I am worried for you.”
Isaac’s fists closed tighter. “Is Max in danger?”
Doorman’s silence spanned a breath too long.
Isaac turned on his heel, stepping towards the door. “I have to warn him.” He stopped suddenly, pulling out his phone instead. That would be faster—
“Isaac, wait. I don’t know if...” Doorman trailed off, withered by Isaac’s glare, which burned with still deepening surprise and disappointment. “The... the situation is supremely delicate.”
Isaac raised his phone. “Mr. Spender, then...!”
“No.” Doorman shakily rose from his chair
“Master Guerra. The Consortium—”
“No!” The spirit shrunk from his own shout. “Isaac, please. Not... not them—”
Isaac stared at Doorman in disbelief. “...You know about them. You knew what they kept from me this... this whole time. YOU kept it from me!” As Isaac backed away, rumbling thunder echoed softly from each step. He felt King Catnine loom beside him, the subtle tug of a spirit trance. A reminder of his presence. “And what, what? Isabel’s family, my teacher, my—my friends... they’re your enemies too?”
Doorman saw the answer made clear to his pupil in his moment’s hesitation. “I would not turn you against them, I... I never sought to see you forced between us. Trust me—”
“Why did I ever?!” A stroke of lightning arced alongside Isaac’s wild gesture, singing the floorboards beside him. “You just showed up right when I needed you. You MADE me need you!” Rain was falling in the room now, sourceless and steady. “Who are you?? Did you believe a word of what you taught me?!”
Wind whipped at Doorman’s coat. “I found you by chance. I reached out by choice. I recognized your guilt because I shared it, your present because it was my past. I imparted my ideals, the ones that I aspire to!” He shook his head, raising his voice above the growing indoor storm. “But peace and justice can’t endure in isolation, Isaac, they can’t persist as just one soul’s pursuit! There are forces of evil that must be fought, forces of good that can’t reach those in need unless uplifted!” A step towards Isaac, perfect balance on the now-slick manor floor
“I’m a weapon to you!” Isaac gasped.
“No!” Doorman was pleading. He dodged furniture pushing past him, scrambling to escape the rain, as he moved closer, reaching out. “That struggle is my burden! That is why I kept it secret. I only sought to guide you, to help you however I could!”
A flash of lightning lit the room. Isaac’s eyes shot to the countless copies of Nin perched ready to pounce in the rafters. Confusion became anger, then a cold determination.
Isaac’s glare returned to Doorman. “Then tell me everything. What you’re after, who’s after you, who or what is inside Max’s bat. Help me help him.”
Doorman’s voice caught in his throat.
“Tell me!” Isaac shouted, and dark storm clouds boomed above him.
The spirit’s shoulders sank.
Isaac’s face slowly shifted from rage to disappointment. “...You don’t trust me.” He sounded spent, wrung out, stretched thin. “You can’t, you... you never did.”
The last of the rain fell in a single sheet, and the storm eased to a stop. Isaac searched his mentor’s face for something to hold onto, to take with him, but all that he could see was resignation. Doorman hung his head. The faint sound of trickling water filled the silence.
The air seemed to follow Isaac as he left the Slanted Manse, draping stagnant stillness in its wake.