Annette studied Curioso's face in the growing light. He had not slept, that was certain, and the dark patches beneath his eyes spoke of tears as well. This wound she could not reach. It explained so much, her capture by the Japanese, and Curioso's ability to find and rescue her. Who better to know those dealings than your own flesh and blood?
"Come, chere" She brushed her hand along his cheek and then grabbed his wrist. "To bed."
"'Nets... I can't...I shouldn't be in here.." he looked from her to the pallet and back again.
She stood firm. "Do not anger me in such a peaceful place as this. You need to rest, I need to think."
He walked reluctantly to the pallet with her, and she sat with her back against the wall. He lay beside her, facing the wall, but his ragged breath told her that sleep was not coming. When she lightly tapped his shoulder and said, "Chere, enough.." he rolled over and curled himself to place his head in her lap. The tears that flowed onto her became in liquid form, a solid resolution that she would break this brother's neck with her bare hands should she have the chance. As the moment passed, she began to run her fingers from his hairline down to the base of his neck, and his breathing gradually became regular once again. Quietly she began to sing
"Sous le ciel de Paris
S'envole une chanson
Elle est nee d'aujord'hui
Dans le coeur d'un garcon
Sous le ciel de Paris
Marchant les amoureux
Leur bonheur se construit
Sur un air fait pour eux"
His breathing told her that, however fitfully, he slept. With this, she carefully slid from beneath him, and left the room in search of answers.
At the bottom of the stairs, she saw Tirseng standing, as if waiting for her. "Ah, phra ma! You must come along," he smiled, "This morning you may walk with me." The two walked to the gates of the monastary, and Tirseng gave reproachful glances to the pair of monks who muttered "buyr sdud ma" behind Annette as she passed.
"What is this?" she asked him.
"You will have to forgive my brothers from time to time, they only whisper that you are a shameful woman, but what they know of women they only know from books.."
Annette smiled at the bashful little man, delighted in his honesty, and wondering to herself just which books he had been reading.
When they reached the top of the rise, Tirseng gave a short whistle, and two of the largest dogs that Annette had ever seen, rose from the grasses and walked over to them. Tirseng brought bits of food out from his robes, squatted down and fed the beasts, as Annette watched from what she hoped ws a safe distance.
"What are these," she whispered, "certainment..not the parents of the little ones inside?"
Tirseng chuckled. "I thought you might like to see these two. My 'mdza'snying du sdug pa'i bshes'--the friends and lovers. They were never content inside the monastary walls, but have always lived just outside to warn us of danger." he gave her a sly sideways glance and proceeded to break up the food. "Curioso was much like this when I knew him last. As a young man, he grasped the teaching quickly, but ah, so many questions, such desire...his brother learned the teachings, but turned them against the good of all. I ask you, what is worse? When it came to pass that Curioso felt it necessary to leave us," he sighed, "his brother took the opportunity to gang dga'byed, to ah....do as he pleased?...and you know quite well the result of that." He stood and brushed the crumbs from his hands.
Annette nodded her head, remembering the shadow hovering in the corner of her cell in Kyoto. The fear in the moment of holding one's breath, the silence before the wave crashes down, that very terror drawn out in weeks of darkness in Japan. She knew it well. "But what of now?" she urgently asked. "Do you know he thinks that he killed his own teacher? Did you see his face at the celebration last night? That was no celebration to him. He walked all night, and even in sleep cries out about these five poisons. I cannot believe him to do this. A protector? Oui. A murderer? Non."
They returned to the monastary, and upon reaching the stairs, Tirseng touched her arm and promised to speak again soon. She thanked him and returned to the window seat in her room. There she waited, alternately watching the increasing activity in the courtyard, and Curioso's slumbering form until he drowsily opened an eye to her.
"You were gone," he started.
"Yes chere, walking with Tirseng. He explained to me about the friends and lovers."
Curioso's haggard face managed a half-smile, "I'll bet he did.." "Cretin," she replied, walking to the pallet, "Now you must explain to me about last night."