Crystalline air, cold from winter’s breath on the old city fractured the light from every street post into subtle geometry. The fog drifting through the air cast a haze on the forms floating in the air neither close nor far and with most of the lamp bulbs being more of a yellow hue, the city was black velvet encrusted in gold.

Jonas walked purposefully along the walk; stone wall to his left before lower-level where the canal slid inky black through the night. It was there but without a light opposite to reflect, the water played tricks on his mind: diving near and far, deep and shallow, alive with motion and completely and utterly still.

He walked with a purpose not because he had one -there was plenty of time- but because it was cold.

The air bit in his lungs if he took a breath too deep and his fingers in felted leather gloves in pockets still remembered the San Diego winters. Usually sitting at a frigid twenty-one Celsius. Nothing, oh nothing compared to this easy negative two.

The sarcasm wasn’t helping. Despite his best mental efforts to trivialize the cold his hands were still afraid to come out of their not-so-warm hiding places.

Jonas leaned in as he rounded the corner; somehow bent over slightly he felt a little less cold. Probably entirely in his mind. That made him smile. Oh the things that were in his mind one day and dancing through reality the next.

His eyes went wide as he stuttered a step.

Why the fuck have I not made a totem to warm myself?!

The thought hit him like a slap in the face -r maybe the brain- for being so stupid. That was obviously next on the list.

At the center of the bridge he stopped and turned in a full clockwise circle before stopping to face the rail and that inky coiled blackness that wound its way through the city. A black gash cutting light from light, but gently and with no fuss.

He’d been here on and off but most recently an extensive nine months. In that time he’d walked most of the city twice over, and parts of it dozens of times. Knowing a space was important. He had always covered a lot of ground and remembered well what he saw, making “home” a hazy word. Jonas could find his way around dozens of cities in half as many countries around the world, just by memory. Did that make a city home?

He’d been here for nine months. Did that make it a home?

Most people had such a notion of home that it required some level of investment. A house, a dog, a regular job, and a small pack of kids. His eyes involuntarily narrowed at that. What in the utter hell would he do with a pack of children?

Well they do have small fingers. Maybe they can help with the work.

Jonas chuckled silently to himself at the notion of fathering children for technical labor work.

But they’d live comfortably…

A dark joke for a dark night. Luckily entirely in his head and one he’d not be sharing with anyone. Jonas raised his brows, eyes wide, to clear and dismiss the thought. The backside of Notre Dame came into view. Down the canal and a bit to the right.

Most people wouldn’t know it without the placard on the front door but Jonas preferred to know his cities. Front and back, top side and dark underbelly.

He reached into his pocket to pull out his watch. It was a quarter past eleven; six more minutes.

He replaced the watch and his hand went to mouth for a breath of warm air before retreating to it’s warmer-than-otherwise den. He glanced to the right, seemingly absent minded, a man lost in thought on a late, cold night. As far as anyone else was concerned.

Then he slowly turned his head to the left, eyes drifting over the cityscape. It was lovely at this hour, largely due to lack of people. But as his gaze went fully left, there was one person.

The figure moved slowly but directly towards him, leaving the cover of the buildings and stepping into the gold-encrusted circle of light at the end of the bridge. Wearing a long coat and a hood, they looked like a shadow moving through shadows.

Jonas’ hand instinctually found the small leather pouch in his pocket, the shape of a delicate ring inside pressed between his thumb and index finger.

Right on Time.