Cael couldn’t stop himself from clutching at the collar of his borrowed robe. There was no way Alberich could see the patches of Legion on his skin with the naked eye; but knowing that did nothing to sooth his paranoia.
“Let me just,” Cael whipped away the shower curtains, “drain the tub for you and, uh…” he reached into the soapy water with one hand, “it’ll be all yours.”
“Why was I left out there alone?”
The large man’s eyes were fixated on the draining water. Cael cleared his throat and re-wrapped the robe around his narrow frame as he stood.
“Well, the madam of the house said it was okay.”
“The… mean, little woman out front.”
“And you thought that was wise? Do you think she could have handled my other self had he gone out of control?”
“They seemed to be handling you pretty well when I came out.”
There was an awkward moment as the two stood staring at each other before Cael stepped back and turned toward the wall. With the limited privacy, Alberich began to peel off the layers of sweat stained clothing.
“Of course they were able to handle me. It’s my other self that’s unpredictable. I thought you understood that.”
Cael picked at the seam of the faded wallpaper. It was patternless, and in the dim lamplight it had forgotten what color it had once meant to be.
“To tell you the truth, your other self wasn’t….” A shush of the raining wter interrupted as activated the shower head. The squeals of curtain rings announced Alberich’s entry into the tub. “Well, he wasn’t too different from you this time. Maybe a little less, um, patient, I guess you’d say, but he still expected to follow me out of this place. Fewer deaths this time, which was a plus. None in fact.”
He turned around and flopped back down onto the bed. Looking over, he saw the wet shower curtains cling claustrophobically to Alberich’s sides as he twisted in the small tub, like a fat caterpillar struggling in its cocoon. Cael politely turned away again.
“There was this moment on the train. I don’t know how much you remember. I think you had fallen asleep but then you-he, ah… awoke because this man was harassing Ilya. Well, I don’t think it was really for Ilya’s sake so much as it was the noise bothering you. Things escalated, of course, and in the end… I could have sworn you were going to kill those men. Him! He. He was going to… but he didn’t. He somehow talked them down. Got them to back down while still insulting the hell out of them. It was, well, quite a feat when you think about it.”
Cael rolled onto his side toward the shower.
“Alberich, do you remember what you said back there? What he said, sorry.”
“Weren’t you there?”
“No… I thought it best to get Ilya out of there before things got out of hand.”
“But leave me behind.”
“It was your storm coming, Alberich. Nothing I could do but to seek shelter. Besides, we were only one car over.”
Alberich grumbled unhappily.
“So do you remember?” Cael pushed on.
There was a pause in the scrubbing, “I… vaguely. Why does it matter?”
“It was just amazing is all. I’d kill to…” Cael caught himself, “Sorry, I just can’t imagine what you could have said. These memories you’re holding, whoever this other personality is, he’s a genius.”
The shower ceased and Cael jumped up from the bed again to face the wall. His hands impulsively clutching at the collar of his robe again.
“The question is,” he said at the wall, “why this time, did he use words instead of violence? Or better yet, why did you resort to violence back on the ship, have all those men killed?”
“He, why did he, not me.” Alberich’s words became a little breathless as he struggled to dry himself off. “I’m starting to get the impression you are more interested in these memories, and unlocking this other man’s secrets than helping me escape them. I believe I’m actually feeling a little jealous of all the attention he’s getting.”
“Oh, Alberich, no need to be so sensitive. I need to understand what I’m dealing with before I can be effective. I mean, maybe if I knew what exactly Lukas was after….”
“Me! He’s after me, remember?”
Cael took a deep breath and picked at the wallpaper again as he thought through his next response. He turned to see Alberich disdainfully pulling the soiled kurta over his belly to hang in front of the equally dirty payjama pants.
“Mari should be up, let’s go see her.”
Alberich gave his kurta a final tug. “Now?”
“Yes, let’s go.”
Cael tightened the knot of his robe and lead the way into the hall.
Mari’s dream had just begun to reassert itself when a rapid knock at the door startled her back into the darkness. It took a moment for her to realize her eyes were already open, and again another flurry of knocking shot through the little room prompted several bodies to stir around her.
“Zha gau! Go aghway!” Her commons was even more heavily accented in the grogginess.
Cael’s voice came muffled through the door. “Mari! It’s me and Alberich.”
“I don’t carghe.” She mumbled into the pillow. There was a deep groan from the man beside her.
“Come on, Mari, let us in. I think I have a plan.”