They meet in a coffee shop.
Why it happens? Well. That’s something Kallista and Lenka have never been able to agree on. Lenka claims it was fate; Kallista just says that it was just a bit of luck. That ‘bit of luck’ being the fact that Lenka was so amused by a man’s headwear that she just had to rush up to him and ask where on Earth he found such a ridiculous item, completely unaware that he was wanted by seven Sanctuaries across the world, and that her question stalled him long enough for Kallista to snap shackles on his wrists.
Kallista Pendragon is a professional. She explains with a smile to the horrified mortals in the coffee shop about a man being arrested in front of their eyes that he’s from a troubled, broken home. He’s been accused of a crime and they just need to ask him a few questions. That’s all. The key part of this story is convincing them that it’s not the criminal’s fault they’re a criminal. The thing about humans that Kallista has learnt, is that they are more likely to believe what they want to believe. They want to believe the glamorous lies films show them, that bad people just have a bad history, that there’s a reason why people do things wrong.
They believe these things, and she will believe these things when she wants to, because otherwise you must face the fact that you cannot do anything to help the people who are guilty. You can only stop them. You can only remove them from society, and nothing more. It’s unbearable to know that you can’t help another person, so Kallista lies. She lies because it’s easier. Because it’s what people want.
Lenka Bazaar, on the other hand, is not satisfied as easily.
She follows them out of the building, sipping her latte as she walks, keeping close behind. Kallista looks over her shoulder to see who her follower is, and frowns in confusion. “Can I help you?”
And that was how they met.
“No but, seriously,” Lenka says casually, as if she has not just been told that the man, Dexter Strange, in the back of the car she’s in has been experimenting on Sorcerers for decades – many of these experiments leading to either death or insanity, “Where did you get that hat?”
You’re a professional, Kallista reminds herself. So why did you just tell a crazy woman some top secret information AND let them get in the same car as a level twelve criminal?
Dexter stares at the petite blonde woman while she looks at him in fascination. “You’re insane.”
“No, no, we’ve been through this. It’s Bazaar. B-A-Z-double A-R. Lenka Bazaar.”
“I have the right to remain silent!”
“And I have the right to find out where you brought your hat so that I can pay money for it and thust increase my success as an active participant in our twisted economy!”
Kallista has been biting her bottom lip for the past ten minutes to stop herself from laughing at the conversation Lenka and Dexter are having. Especially when Lenka starts describing the hat in question. (“But it… it’s got flaps on it! And there’s fur on the inside! And even buttons! Do they do anything? No? Not even shoot lasers or teleport you to places? Oh. Well, that’s a little disappointing… but I guess the style makes up for that. Don’t you agree, Dexter?”)
But when Lenka finishes off her most recent comment with: “So there!” before sticking her tongue out at him, Kallista can’t help it. She laughs. She laughs so hard there are tears in her eyes, and the corners of her mouth hurt from grinning so wide, but she can’t help it.
“Pathetic children…” Dexter mumbles in the back.
Neither of them answer him. They just smile at each other, giggling like girls at a sleepover that have just snuck downstairs to make popcorn without anyone else knowing.
When they arrive at the nearest Sanctuary, Dexter Strange is taken by Cleavers and put into a cell until he can be transported to a more suitable location. Before he’s locked behind bars though, Kallista snatches the hat off of his head and throws it to Lenka, whose eyes widen in surprise.
“He’s not going to need it,” Kallista says as a way of explanation when a Cleaver tilts his helmet to the side slightly. Lenka squeals in delight, throwing her arms around Kallista and chanting thank you thank you thank you! in her ear.
When Kallista replies with “You’re welcome.” what she means is thank you for reminding me how to laugh. Of course, Lenka doesn’t know that, but Kallista figures she’s got time to show her.
When Kallista first heard that Lenka didn’t show up for a meeting at the Sanctuary, she wasn’t worried. Lenka was sometimes late for things or forgot about small details. It wasn’t even an important meeting; just something about how people needed to recycle more.
But then that meeting turned into a full day. Then a week. And Kallista still wasn’t exactly worried, because this had happened before. Lenka proved herself to be a valuable addition to her Sanctuary in the short period of time that she had been there, and that resulted in having to travel around to help in various areas. But then the week turned into a month. And Kallista was worried.
Lenka had never been gone for longer than two weeks. And even then she would contact Kallista to cancel plans that they had or to just tell her something. (“The man next to me had a shirt with a ninja pirate on it. Not just and ninja and a pirate, but a ninja pirate! THIS SOLVES EVERYTHING, KAL!”)
But Kallista was a professional. So she drove to the Sanctuary, and she went inside, and she spoke to the first person she saw.
“Do you know where Lenka is? Lenka Bazaar?”
The woman she was talking to offered her a look of sympathy. “Miss Pendragon, there seems to be a slight… problem.” She didn’t meet Kallista’s eyes, just focused on the wall behind her, as if looking at her would be invasive.
“We don’t know where Lenka is.”
Kallista went to Lenka’s house first, fighting the urge to throw up as her mind formed the worse possible conclusion.
The whole place was empty.
Kallista didn’t know whether to cry in relief or scream in desperation.
To make certain that her friend wasn’t there, Kallista checked the whole house again. She found all of Lenka’s suitcases in the attic. Electronics still plugged in (Lenka never left them like that when she was traveling). Food that had gone out of date weeks ago in the fridge.
She was about to leave when something caught her eye. A hat. With flaps, fur on the inside, and a variety of
different coloured buttons which were sown on. Lenka always took it with her when she was traveling. She loved wearing it, despite the fact that it was too big for her head. She would pretend it didn’t bother her, even though it would slip and cover her eyes sometimes without warning.
Where are you, Lenka?
Lenka had been found. And for that, Kallista was thankful.
But she had been found exactly how Kallista had feared she would be found. Dead. Which was why Kallista stood over her open coffin now, unsure on what you’re supposed to say to someone who can’t hear you.
Did you think of me? Because I thought of you.
It was strange, looking at Lenka’s face in the flesh for the first time in so long. Kallista wasn’t sure if she had forgotten about some of her features or if they had appeared when she was no longer by her side.
Why didn’t you say goodbye?
Kallista recognised Lenka’s parents standing a few feet away, accepting the condolences that people were offering. She had already tried to say something to them, but the words had formed a lump in her throat that left her feeling as if it was impossible to breathe. Instead, she just walked past them, straight towards Lenka. Lenka always knew what to say. Or at least, she used to.
I wish I could tell you that I’d would’ve done the same for you. You probably already knew. But I… I would’ve liked to have reminded you.
Ignoring all the people who were looking her way, Kallista took something out of the bag she’d taken with her. Lenka’s hat. She pondered for a moment before placing it in the coffin next to Lenka, and the room went silent. Kallista could imagine that some of them were disgusted that someone would dare do such a thing without even speaking to the deceased’s parents, but she refused to care. Especially when it had meant so much to them both.
Were you happy? Because I hope you were.
“Thank you,” Kallista said, but she made sure she whispered the next part, “for reminding me how to laugh.”
That was how they were set apart.
And whenever Kallista’s daughter asked her why, the answer was always:
“I guess it was fate, Lenka.”