Others, 27

Jude tapped his foot on the floor, grateful that they’d gotten the heat working again in the Citadel so it wasn’t freezing cold. If they were going to be immortal, he thought they could at least be reasonably comfortable while they did it, and he was glad he wasn’t the only one who thought so.

He was ostensibly reading a book, but actually he was just sitting here being nervous about something stupid. That was fine. He’d gotten a lot of reading done earlier today. He’d read two books. He was learning so much about holds. The gods had all used to have this power—well, they still had it—where they could go to a weird little other world called a hold that nobody else could get to. Jude was supposed to be trying to figure out if there was any point at all in even trying to transfer that power to humans when they took the gods’ powers or if it would just not fly.

The Citadel had a good collection of books plundered from different gods during the war, and someone had to go through them to learn what they could. They’d all been read before, back when Raphael and Cameron had been trying to flush out every last god, but now that there was a new mission, it only made sense to collect all the information they could. So Jude and Tam were learning everything about holds. Some people still thought there were probably a bunch of gods hiding in holds and wanted a way to find them, but Jude was barely skimming any of the annotations that had to do with holds’ vulnerabilities.

Bad Idea

Jude had a migraine when he woke up, which wasn’t super unusual. It probably just meant he’d been drinking last night. He was in a nice comfortable bed with a lot of blankets on it, which was super nice. He’d obviously fucked someone classy last night, so good on him.

And someone nice, seemed like. There was aspirin and a glass of water on the side table, which Jude happily took. He vaguely remembered last night being a lot of fun, and the sex being really good, and he was sure that with just another few seconds he’d remember other details, such as who the sex had been with.

After downing the aspirin, Jude stood up, went to the bathroom and other exciting morning things. Then he began the process of finding his way through someone else’s house, which was always a fun experience. Whoever this was sure had a lot of books. It was probably someone from the conference, Jude thought vaguely. Seeing as he’d been at the conference for days and the reception had been last night and yes, Jude remembered this now. He’d drank a lot of free wine. It had been pretty decent wine for free wine.

A lot of the books were about history and politics, and a distressing amount more of them were about philosophy, which probably meant he’d fucked someone from the philosophy half of the conference, which was good, since it meant that Jude wouldn’t ever have to talk to them again. Except that a disturbing amount of the books were specifically about moral philosophy, and that started to trigger a lot of memories about who he’d been talking to at the conference, and who he’d gone drinking with after the conference, and yes, he’d definitely fucked Tam Matthews, which made sense because that was, in fact, who Jude had slept with every night of the conference. Right, okay.

Networking Opportunity

Of all the parts of his job that Jude didn’t like, having to go to conferences was easily…

Well, it was on the list, anyway. It was nowhere near as high as grading, office hours, faculty meetings, grading, grant applications, and grading, but it was on the list. It was just so tedious, and they lasted several days, and he’d really much rather just read the papers afterwards.

But networking and kairotic space and the free flow of ideas and also sometimes an open bar, so Jude went to conferences. And he saw all the same people he always saw, talking about the same stuff they always talked about. The ones he was friends with he could see without the façade of a conference, and the ones he wasn’t he’d really rather not see.

No Matter What You’ve Heard, Angels Aren’t Any Better at Solving the World’s Problems than Anyone Else

Sometimes, the world changed abruptly, all at once, a single event forcing history to take a turn into something that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. Something that historians could look back on and write about as being the definitive moment when something or another had changed permanently.

That didn’t usually happen. Usually it was gradual, change taking place over many years, centuries even, countless people contributing to it. It was rare that one person or even a small group of people changed history of the course of a few days or even a few years.

And usually when those abrupt changes did happen, they were impossible to see coming. A catastrophe that struck without warning. A war. Someone deciding something, the consequences of which didn’t become clear until it was too late. It was rare to be able to look at an event coming up and know that was going to be when everything changed.

But sometimes it happened. Sometimes, Jude thought, it was possible to look at something that was about to happen and know. To know that this was something that was going to be in history books someday, that this was something that was going to change the world. And that was humbling.

And being involved in something of that magnitude, knowing that it would have this impact, knowing that, made it…terrifying.