It's easy to forget the little things in life that matter... It's easy to forget just how much you love someone when they're so nearby... It's easy to forget just how important actually having a schedule is when everything's laid out for you... And, easiest to forget of all, is just how miserable off-brand peanut butter tastes by comparison.

Serena DeWitt sat at her desk, a tablespoon deep in the tawny cream. She was looking deep into her monitor, her fingers clacking away almost mindlessly. One sentence would pop up after a few minutes of thought... and in just seconds, it'd be wiped away. A new one was started, but with the same end.

She groaned and pulled out the spoon, licking it while she studied the document. It was an abstract she'd been hired to write on a new book coming out. The book looked atrocious, but money was money. Abstracts were never very long, but it was their brevity that made them nigh impossible.

So many thoughts and ideas to summarize in such convincing wording—and in so little space! She looked over at the small digital clock in the corner of the screen. It was almost three in the morning. She returned her gaze to the document.

It was a book about a murder. A flock of clichéd faces and names all ran around like chickens with their heads cut off until the climax, where the unabashedly sexy female detective had an epiphany that turned the tables. That'd be a nice abstract... a truthful one, anyway.

What about this murder was so important? People were murdered every day, heartless as it sounded. What if the man wasn't dead? Certainly the female detective couldn't wrap her brain around more than a recipe on her best day. Or he could be both dead and alive, like the metaphorical cat of that one physicist that Serena decided she really didn't care about. It was a neat idea, though.

So, imagine this... The city around her was all influenced by her and her turbulent emotions. She was a walking, talking vial of cyanide. But the one thing that tipped her scales the most was... peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. If the store had the good peanut butter, the city would live. Huzzah. But if the store had that nasty knock-off brand that leaves that gritty taste in your mouth... well, to hell with the city.

But who would know if the city was alive or dead, assuming the city was a collective that depended on Serena and her peanut-buttery desires? God? He might not watch. Perhaps he'd decide to go on lunch—just so he wouldn't ruin the experiment. Maybe he'd even have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich... the good kind... divinely proportioned, and whatnot...


The voice swished around in her skull like a numbing agent. Her brain tried to process it, but...

"Serena?" The voice snapped. Serena jolted in her chair and looked up into the lined face of her exhausted roommate. Her name was Charlene, and if there is one thing to be said of her, it's that she worried far too much. "You should be in bed. You're falling asleep in your chair."

"Lies; all lies," she said, narrowing her eyes.

"I just watched you. You feel asleep."

"You were watching me? Weirdo," she muttered, turning back to the screen. "Anyway, I'm almost done. This is the last one for the week, and I'm kind of... behind schedule."

"I noticed," Charlene said, voice dripping with vitriol. "Do you want coffee?"

"That'd be terribly nice of you," Serena said, leaning forward again and placing her hands on the keyboard. Her forearm jostled the spoon she'd abandoned when she had passed out. She brushed it out of the way, and had managed to type a paragraph before Charlene returned. She placed the coffee on the desk and looked at the screen.

"Looks like you're pretty far..." she said softly, somewhat distracted by reading the text. Serena placed her thin hands on the screen.

"No reading; you don't read what people are typing. Because then it'll inevitably come out awful, and then you'll ruin my chances at getting paid this week. Thank you for the coffee. Now go back to bed." Serena said. She'd been joking, of course, and Charlene had become accustomed to such tomfoolery. She just rolled her eyes and turned away.

"Whatever. But try to get some sleep tonight..." she mumbled as she walked out of the room.

"Yup," Serena said under her breath as she continued to type. It was four-thirty by the time the abstract was finished and only five minutes after that when Serena dropped into a dead sleep...


Randolph Grimweld was calmly sitting in an outdoor seat of a café. It was in the Citadel, and therefore close to his home and workplace. That and it had surprisingly good coffee. He'd been invited to take tea with a friend of his who supposedly had quite exciting news... Considering the friend, however, it could've been anything from an earthquake that had jostled loose a mysterious, world-rending artifact... or some money he'd chanced to find in a pocket he thought was empty.

Sitting in the open like this would have gleaned a lot of unwanted attention for such a... renowned politician. He decided today was as good as any other to wear a low-brimmed hat, don a trim but rather shapeless greatcoat, and—most jarring of all—dye his hair a dusty blonde. True enough, it didn't look at all well with his olive skin and softer features, but he hoped that'd make it all the harder to identify him.

"Nice hair," a man said, pulling a chair quickly back from his table and sitting in it comfortably. Randolph jolted and looked up from his coffee. Upon seeing his startled look, the man laughed.

"I didn't want any attention today," Randolph explained calmly, picking up his cup of coffee. The man rolled his eyes.

"Really? Mmhm... right, blondie. And that's why you agreed to meet me here, right? So terribly private..." he quipped, leaning on the table. Randolph watched his saucer inch along the surface of the table as it slowly tilted.

"It's been a while since I've had their coffee."

"And you couldn't just 'magic' yourself to look like... oh, I don't know, someone actually inconspicuous? I think you just like the whole blonde thing..." the man said with a smirk, letting his weight off the table and leaning back in his chair casually. "I mean it looks all right, but—"

"You had something to tell me, didn't you, Janus?" Randolph asked. Janus had an awful tendency to ramble like a garrulous housewife, and if he hadn't put a stop to it, Janus may well have continued for the better part of an hour. He was... gifted, in that way.

Janus only rolled his eyes.

"Oh, fine. Really, Ranny, whatever happened to a little friendly banter? I—" he cut himself off as he noticed a nervous-looking waitress who had been awaiting a break in the conversation. She smiled weakly as she noticed he'd stopped for her.

"Sorry to bother you gentlemen, I was only wondering if you would like something...?" She asked, looking over at Janus. Janus smirked and leaned a little more heavily on the chair.

"A hot air balloon would be nice. That, and a massage."

"I... um..."

"Only fooling," Janus said, opening a menu in front of him. "I don't know... I—oop! I'm decided. Cherry pie..." he said, handing the menu to the waitress, "with vanilla ice cream... and a spot of milk. Wars have been won with such combinations, you know?" He grinned, his blue eyes glinting.

The waitress laughed a little, taking the menu. As immeasurably odd as Janus was, he'd been blessed with a fair dosage of charm to at least level it out. The waitress left with a few brief, pleasant words, and with that Janus looked again to Randolph.

"They have cherry pie, Ranny. Today is officially a good day."

"How nice it must be, to have entire days swing in good favor for such minute reasons," Randolph said, smiling almost wearily. Janus snickered and leaned back even further in his chair, balancing it on its two back legs.

"Gods, man, could you get any more sad? Anyway, to get back on topic... yeah, I had something fun to tell you. And I just know you'll love it. Maybe even freak out on me—dance on the table, even, or maybe wear your socks on your ears for the rest of the day."

"Usually I can follow you, but I fear this time you've outdone yourself," Randolph mused, narrowing his eyes. "It's good news, then? Relevant? To me, anyway?"

"I—Ran! Really, now? Assuming I never have anything good to say? Well, I'm wounded," Janus pouted. Randolph raised a brow and murmured dryly.

"Get on with it, and I'll foot the bill for your pie."

"Well, look at that..." Janus purred, placing a hand on his chest in an exaggeratedly touched manner, "a man after my own heart. All right, then. I'll tell you..." he said, voice dropping slightly as he leaned back forward in his chair. "I've heard tell of another Athanasian... coming soon, too."

Although likely hard to understand at this moment, it should be said that this sentence was perhaps the most relevant, crucial, and maddeningly, mind-blowing-ly fantastic news that Randolph had heard for the better part of two centuries. Better, even, than learning he'd successfully graduated from the Academy of Swarthmore, or that his brother really hadn't been blown to bitty pieces in the most recent war.

"You're joking," Randolph said, a smile creeping on to his countenance. "This... no... no," he calmed down, his features slowly slipping back into disappointment. "If this is a jape, Janus... I will kill you. I don't much care how long we've been friends, I will murder you." He hadn't meant it, of course, but the words had hit home. Janus shook his head animatedly.

"Not at all, Ran, I'm serious. Figured you'd like this news..." he said with a smile. "Found out about it a few days ago, actually," he finished, grinning.

Janus was a hellion—a unique form of creature that found they could easily exist in several time periods at once. This, however, is both blessing and curse, for because of this, nearly all hellions go stark, raving mad. Janus was one of the very few who did not, and because of this, he not only could access the timestream better than anyone else Randolph knew, but he was also given a marvelously high ranking among those who chanced to meddle with time. And he made sure everyone knew damn well about it.

"Amazing..." Randolph said softly, almost breathlessly. At this moment, the waitress returned, carrying a plate of pie with several generous scoops of vanilla ice cream. She placed it in front of Janus, gently laying the cup of milk down as well.

"Oh! My good woman..." Janus marveled, looking up at the waitress with a look of sheer joy that nearly rivaled Randolph's. "Be still, my beating heart." The waitress laughed again and walked away from the table, and Janus tucked into his pie without further preamble.

"What's the name... of the Athanasian, I mean?" Randolph asked, still somewhat in a trance.

"Mmph?" Janus muttered around his pie, pausing and planning out his next few words carefully. As a high-ranking hellion, he had an obligation to guard knowledge of the timestream. This meant he could not simply tell Randolph what happened in other eras, or what would soon come to be. Such was the work of an Athanasian, an even more odd phenomenon... and one that Randolph had been waiting for his entire life.

He swallowed painfully and took a quick sip of his milk. "Lenore Beckwith, I believe... mean anything to you?" Randolph frowned.

"No... nothing... You didn't get anything else? A location? Or an exact time?" He persisted. Janus shook his head.

"Nope... Best start asking around, I guess... Mm... Lenore Beckwith..." Janus mused, shoving another forkfull of pie and ice cream into his mouth. Randolph sat in silence, thinking of how best to track down this Lenore. Hoping... praying that some divine force of the universe would deliver her into his hands. Janus swallowed, and recited, setting down his fork and spreading his hands.

"Deep into that darkness, peering... long I stood there... wondering... fearing... doubting..." he said solemnly, slowly reaching down and taking a leisurely sip of milk. He set both hands back down again and cut out another bite of pie. "And that's all I know. Oh, and 'for the rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore...'." He trailed off narrowing his eyes and putting down his fork again, rubbing his chin. "Damn."

Randolph watched him curiously, a brow raised. He was about to say something before Janus cut him off excitedly.

"Nameless here for evermore!" He said triumphantly with a snap. "Haha! I remembered."

"Remembered what...?" Randolph asked, having resigned himself, after many years of knowing Janus, to not getting a straight answer. Sure enough, Janus shrugged.

"Oh, hell if I know where I picked that up," Janus said, before shoving in another helping of pie. Randolph sat back in his chair, hardly listening to Janus, his mind buzzing excitedly over all the ways he might be able to find this Athanasian. Janus frowned at the distracted look on his friend's face.

"You weren't even listening to me," Janus muttered dejectedly, swallowing his pie but still managing a frown. Randolph did not reply... for—indeed—he hadn't been listening.