Thank merciful Lord for Jude… Devon thought after removing himself from Kanna's drowsy person, having to hold her steady after the butler had made his thwarted attempt at removing Adrian's coat.
"..The coast clear?" Pen's voice whispered up from Jude's pocket, careful not to reveal herself.
"For now." Jude responded by withdrawing Pen out into the open. "So much hiding today. I don't like it... Gosh, you're toasty." He spoke in a low voice, but smiled at her warmly, glad to be able to talk to her again.
Adrian did the same- his hand slipped into his jacket and came out with two slightly frazzled people in his palm. He was relieved to see they didn't look quite so queasy this time. He squinted and brought them much closer to his face.
"You've got some bread crumbs in your hair..." He swiped a couple times at Devon's curls until the granules were gone.
"I ought to cuff you for that, heathen." Devon arched a joking brow and kept his voice at a healthy volume before attending to his mussed hair though he honestly did no damage.
Kanna opened her eyes and turned her head to look over at Adrian, drowsy eyes fixed calmly upon his face.
Adrian's laughter quieted when he caught Kanna's stare on him. It was quiet, non-judgemental, and something else he couldn't put his finger on. It was a bit unnerving, but not unwelcome. He distracted himself by clearing his throat and turning around so they would see where they were. "The dude lives in a freaking museum..."
Pen motioned for Jude to draw her closer and once he had, she leaned into a gave him a kiss on the lower lip before withdrawing and placing an optimistic hand over the soft flesh.
"We'll get this done together."
The kiss was a much-needed reassurance from the woman he loved.
"I know." He whispered back. Jude let a faint smile tug at his lips, but he stayed in the diplomatic mindset.
The echoing sounds of footsteps from final leather shoes travelled far more audibly toward the keen ears of the humans. Pen gave Jude a nudge and whispered
"He's coming back."
Kanna placed her hand over Adrian's palm, smoothing her delicate fingers over the surface with a gentle, almost loving smile. Devon shook his head and muttered something about the woman being 'damned barmy'.
"Kanna..." Adrian started to laugh to hide how he really felt. "What-"
"Shhh." Jude held up a finger, and the footsteps became more distinct.
"Should I hide them?" He whispered urgently. But it was too late for an answer. As Radich entered the room, Adrian brought the pair closer, cupping a second hand in front of them for the time being.
The councilman had looked taller in the papers. As far as giants went, he wasn't a particularly large one. Although he was more than half a foot shorter than Jude, he managed to exude a dignified, knowledgeable air of someone who could saw you in half with a handful of words.
"I could smell the discontent on you blokes all the way down the hall." He remarked, putting his hands in the pockets of his burgundy bathrobe. "How may I be of service?" His patient exterior faded immediately when he spotted the tiny red head seated in the first man's hand. He stared at her silently for several long seconds, then shakily reached up to fix his spectacles.
"Please sir, hear us out. We mean no disrespect, but these laws segregating the races are ludicrous."
"First of all, I would like to introduce myself."
Pen motioned for Jude to move her out a bit more so that she might offer her hand to Radich.
"My name is Penelope Farthing, the head of The New Equality Movement, a group created to abolish the segregation, racism, harmful prejudices and encourage the right to universal integration of giants and humans. This is Jude Akil." She gestured back toward the man who held her. "He is a founding member and the man I will be marrying some day."
The elderly gentleman smiled and shook his head, politely declining the offered hand.
"Amusing title. Do you think integration is a new concept?" He paused, his tone like a university professor asking a rhetorical question. "Since the first contact centuries ago, humans and giants have been locked in a struggle for dominance over the other. Equality had been sought by pacifists many times l, but nature wins out inevitably in the end."
"I think we were meant to find each other. Diversity adds colour and richness to cities and lives regardless of politics." Jude replied carefully. Radich waved him off like a naive school boy and scanned the shelves for a book.
"I've never thought that integration was anything creative or new, hence this being a new rendition of a familiar concept. You would live close enough to the city of Carthucus, correct? While I was there, I saw people thriving together. There was no division between giant and human. I met a man who took in a young boy. They love each other as brothers do. I saw a woman carrying a man and laughing with him. I've interacted with Jude's mother and father who were some of the most amazing people I've met. My friend Devon has struck up a bond that was almost intantaneous with Adrian. And Adrian and Kanna...They've been there for each other in many ways, I've noticed. And Jude..."
She felt tenderness of the most genuine sort coat her certain words which blended emotion and fact.
"I've have never loved any person as much I have loved this man. I'm sorry, but if it were nature for us to be apart, then we never would have met in the first place and none of these people I have mentioned would have even formed such strong bonds. This is a world where hope for equality hangs by a thread and those who wish for it lack the means to take complete control by themselves. The public have spoken to me in my travels about a desire for co-existence, for the harmony of a life where all of us can live as a united people rather than a seperate, unstable society. I've heard stories of the people in Japan from Kanna Kitsuragi, the woman who lays in Adrian's hand, of the Buddhist monks both giant and human who watch the world breathe together, who seek balance."
Pen let her words and concepts linger in the world for a moment, eyes still on the councilman.
"Balance. Without those who are willing to be proactive and fight for it, our world will lose the balance that it is crucial to maintain. And I believe that it is through our harmony that this balance will be maintained and the futures of our people will be secured."
She stepped even further, standing atop Jude's fingertips with the balance and steadiness of a cat upon a wire.
"I am here today to ask you to give the people a chance to have thier voices heard. Haven't you ever felt the need to fight for a cause you believe in?"
Radich seated himself in a lavish arm chair as he considered her speech.
"It's a noble thing, to bear the weight of others on your shoulders, Penelope." While he was formally against integration, he spoke to her like an intelligent equal. "Your courage and spirit are admirable. But you are young. The nature of men is too volatile to be trusted with full integration. So many years I lived like that…"
His eyes darkened as he flashed back to his youth.
"So many lives torn apart... A breeding ground for suffering and injustice. That is not the way man is meant to live. What you do on your own is no concern of mine, but what occurs in public cities requires an understanding beyond your years."
He sighed, watching the way Jude glanced down at Penelope with an indescribable fondness while her back was turned. Radich turned his attention to Adrian. "You may lower your hands, young man, I know you're trying to protect your friends back there. An unecessary kindness, at the moment."
Adrian hesitated, then revealed Kanna and Devon sitting in his hand.
"Tell me... Kanna, is it? Have you never felt utterly fearful in your friend's presence? And you," he nodded at Adrian. "You've never felt monstrous around these people?"
Adrian's Adam's apple bobbed.
"You get used to it." He grunted. Radich responded as if he hadn't replied at all.
"These are natural instincts we need to listen to in order to restore balance to the world."
Silence hung over the air for a split second, but Jude could hear in his voice they were getting to him. Time to go in for the kill.
"Still... Don't you think people deserve the right to choose?" Jude implored gently. The old man stared at him, a flicker of doubt going on and off inside.
Kanna's eyes opened and though she was wear, her calm, reasonable voice was called upon
"I have met many monsters in my life, councilman. And Adrian is not one of them."
"I have lived a life, as short as it has been, with many who tried to deprive me of making choices and left me with none."
Pen did not back down, her hands forming fists
"I was born to a family that lived under the boot of my grandmother who allowed me no freedom. I was restricted to the corset and the manners of only a passive lady. That was not who I was. Just as allowing the world to follow a single set path with no room for the what individuals need is ot in my nature."
Pen's intense eyes lacked anger or hate but the unquenchable fire of a woman who would bring change to the world
"I can tell you that there is no true cruelty greater than taking away one's freedom to choose."
Radich's eyes found their way to a framed photograph of a woman and child hanging on the far wall. The old man suddenly looked his age as he slumped in the chair.
"It's... For your own good." He said quietly. To the rest, it was unclear whether he was addressing them or the photo. Sensing his distress, Jude padded forward and knelt down on one knee, resting the hand bearing Penelope on the armrest.
Radich looked to him with mild alarm, but Jude's voice was calming. "Times have changed, Mr. Radich. People are ready for thjs. Please... Just repeal the segregation act, even temporarily. Give your city the chance to show you how it can flourish in a new light."
The old man looked at each giant and human being in turn, frowning deeply. The grandfather clock in the hallway could be heard ticking in the silence that stretched out.
He nodded. "I'll give it a six-month period."
Jude's soul soared.
Though the act itself would be considered unprofessional by many, Pen took heed of another source-- her own her heart. The woman stepped from Jude`s palm and approached the old man, laying her single, kind hand over his. She smiled up at him in a gentle, genuine way
Her eyes drifted to the photograph respectfully, the image of one precious kept and revered as a treasure by the barer of a sad past
"She's beautiful, by the way. Both her and the child."
Pen gave him a nod of thanks before her fingertips slipped away from his weathered hand and she stepped onto Jude's palm once again.
The smell of ancient furnishings and a tragic tale filled their nostrils
When the man's eyes darted to Penelope, they were glistening, conflicted. His lips became a thin, trembling line. Nodding, he looked down at his lap.
"I hope you know what you're getting yourselves into." He uttered.
Adrian stepped closer, remaining a few paces away from Jude. He didn't dare open his mouth; he knew diplomacy was their realm, not his.
Jude curled his fingers somewhat around Penelope as he got to his feet.
"You won't be disappointed, Mr.Radich."
There was some measure of confliction within Pen's compassionate eyes at the sight of the sorrowful old man and she wished with every scrap of emotion in her kind heart that she could do something to placate him. She knew nothing she could say would be able to aleviate a broken heart that yearned for something lost and forever captured in an ancient photo. The only thing she could think to do without unsettling the painful dust of old injuries was give him a hopeful smile, one that bore respect and gratitude and sympathy rather than pity.
Kanna lowered herself back down into Adrian's hand, the pounding of her head in syncopation with the swinging pendulum of the grandfather clock.
tired old man and a glimmer of the elite educated man that first walked in stared back at her. He looked between all of them. Unspoken stories flashed through his eyes- warnings. He composed himself, standing up and putting his hands in his pockets.
"The proposal will take at least a week to be approved. This is going to change everything."
Jude met his gaze with the determined wisdom of a revolutionary.