"Why does he insist on keeping this one – " Cyrus murmurs.
"I know, I know. You wanted them all." Morel watches him out of the corner of his eye. "Dead." It amuses him, how petty the Protector can be. Man's a cartoon villain. He'd kill 'em for thinking if he could.
"But you know Jules." They turn away from the window. "He's like a cat." You wouldn't want him to get bored.
"Let him have his mouse."
Not this again. This damn room. Come on, wake up. You're not really here. It's just a dream, damn it.
"You're lucky, you know."
Even here I don't want to talk to him.
I hate this. If I know why can't I?
"To be alive."
I can't even move.
"Cyrus – " Yeah, I know. When the dragon woke up he – Why am I so useless? I fall back limply.
Even in my own mind I'm trapped.
Just stop struggling. Wait for it to end on its own.
He's sitting with his back to me. Messing with that damn watch again. He's always looking at it, I remember. Like he's bored doing this or something.
"Is that supposed to be a symbol?" I hear my voice. "A fucking symbol of something?"
He looks up.
My voice dies. Even now he can freeze me with his cold stare. The color of ice.
"You are awake."
He's going to get up now. If I'm lucky this is where it'll end.
"Come on, what's wrong?" He's coming closer. "Say something, say something."
I'm not even awake. I'm asleep. Awaiting to awake. "I'm not afraid of you."
"But you should be."
Through the silence, the rain.
"How have you not learned this yet?"
When I fall, I go back to that place. A church or somewhere – it seems familiar somehow. Shapes, and sometimes in the morning we go outside and I can but now I'm inside and it's night. It's night and I'm walking and walking around it. Around the edges in circles. Everybody else is asleep and I'm all alone. And it's raining.
It's always raining.
"This isn't real."
Once, I remember – there was a time when – It's an art, he said. A technique. All the way almost over the edge and back and over the edge and back again. A fine line razor thin like a wire sharp. The Abyss, he called it. Tell me and I'll let you go. Just tell me and I'll let you go. Just tell me and I'll let you go
Just tell me
and it'll all end.
I don't know. I don't know's always the worst answer.
"I'll wake up and it'll all go away."
"Why don't you go then? Go; nobody's stopping you."
It's just a room after all.
"Why don't you go?" Turning to him, he's looking at his watch again. "What're you still doing here?"
"It's not for you." He quietly says, "it's not for you to ask questions."
Silence, the rain. It's always fucking raining.
Calling out, I don't even know what kind of things I said. Calling out to everything, everything I'd ever known.
"What the hell did I even do? What did I even do to deserve this?"
And there's no answer, there was no answer.
There never is.
That doctor. That stupid doctor. I told myself, if I ever had the chance I'd kill him first.
"Shut up. I don't need it."
At my voice he looks away.
"You're worse than them, you know."
It's so – twisted. He doesn't answer anymore either.
"Your fucking pity."
If it weren't for you
I'd never have to come back.
"Do you remember?"
This old routine, he's pacing around me.
"You saved somebody; so you had to take his place."
I'm staring at the ground, I only see things through a glass darkly.
"Do you remember?"
Damn it, I don't even remember the right answer.
"Do you remember what you have to do?"
It's been raining outside. All day. Everybody gets antsy when it does, when they have to stay in. So Z.'s glad. When it's finally night and everybody finally calms the fuck down and goes to sleep.
Except that kid.
"Can't you stay still?" She hisses as he comes around again. Pacing around the aisles, it's getting on her nerves. "For even one goddamn minute?"
He doesn't seem to notice. "Blue." He's staring out the window at it. More ice than rain, coming down in cascades. "Blue."
He grunts. "Yeah?"
"Holy shit, he didn't say it."
He doesn't respond.
"Looks like he's getting used to his new name."
"Shut up." He moves away. "I'm not bothering anybody."
She gets up and follows him. "He must be getting sick."
He remains silent.
"It's your own damn fault; going about like that." In T-shirts and jeans. "When it's getting colder and colder outside." Always volunteers too, going up and about. Fixing up the roof – spends the nights there too, she suspects.
"When does he sleep?"
"Leave me alone. Neither are you."
"Well I do during the day." Ras likes one of us to be awake at least. "You need to take better care of yourself, kid. You look like a – looking kind of like a – "
" – scarecrow."
Silence. He doesn't continue, is staring outside again. Not like there's anything out there.
"I know what it is." Z. watches him. "You're afraid."
"I'm not afraid." He turns to her. "I just don't like the rain. Is all."
"That's the lamest-ass excuse I ever heard."
He glares at her.
"Look – Andrei. The first step is admitting it – "
"Don't preach to me." he walks away.
" – to yourself at least."
"Stop following me."
"Look, kid. It's a busy day tomorrow. We can't anybody spacing out."
"I'll be fine."
"Like fuck you will. Haven't seen you take more than a catnap in – "
"Get off my back. I don't need anyone to take care of me."
Z. stops, watching him. "I see." Look at him. Walking and walking and walking. Realizing. "Are you doing this – "
He pretends not to hear her. But when he comes around the circle again.
"Doesn't look like it's working."
He gives her that look.
"Hey – I'm not judging." Z. shrugs. "Some people count sheep."
She falls into step beside him.
"What do you do?"
"Hey, good job. A question."
"Want me to help? Read you a bedtime story? Sing you a lullaby?"
He whirls on her – "What do you care?"
– and she takes a step back.
"I don't, really." She recovers, crossing her arms. "Just trying sitting down a while maybe? You're making me nervous."
He ignores her, moves off on another circuit.
Damn. "Suit yourself."
She settles down on the pew and goes back to watching the door.
Where is he?
Leaning against the cold glass, I can nearly see the drops. Almost morning?
But I'm not going to make it, I know.
I don't want to repeat. I don't want to. I don't want to – I tear myself away.
Madly pacing, but there's only so far I can go. Before.
You always have to go back
– don't you?
It's only much later that he stops by her again.
"I hate this sound."
Just as she's about to nod off.
"It hasn't stopped, it'll never stop."
She looks up at him in surprise.
"It's just rain."
He sinks down beside her. "I hate it."
"Don't let it break your heart – I mean your soul."
He stares straight ahead, unhearing.
You always have to give in eventually.
She stops awkwardly. "Is something – "
He looks tired, so tired. And something else too.
"I have something really stupid to ask." He begins suddenly. That expression in his eyes, not looking directly at her. "If I – I. Can you wake me up? If it looks like I'm having a nightmare."
He slumps back; as if that's all he needed.
And now only her. It's a bit lonely, but nice. It's funny; she usually doesn't get like this. Strange feelings that can't be expressed in words. As it fades.
Something lifts off her heart.
And his expression becomes lighter too.
Oh morning come bursting, the clouds, Amen…
lift off this blindfold, let me see again…
what's this voice?
bring back the water your ships sailed in…