I threw it on the ground and cursed. Wiseacre was much too clever to leave any kind of clues lying around as to what he was doing. My legs gave out under me and I sat clumsily, frustrated.
That had been a stupid move on my part and I'd probably endangered us all even further if the Admiral realized the intruder was me. I was supposed to be the one that kept things together, secret, hidden, and all of us safe.
Instead I had gone and stolen an empty file. Stupid, stupid.
I jumped to my feet, prepared to make a dash for it, but found Eli staring at me in disbelief instead.
"Are you...wearing a wig?"
Before I had a chance to explain he kept blabbing on.
"I hope you know that you look perfectly fine with black hair, darling. Not that it makes a difference to me, of course."
"Please, Eli," I hissed, "Could we have this conversation somewhere else?"
Eli really did not understand what I meant by 'somewhere else'.
"Do you absolutely need to shower right now?"
He poked his head around the tiled wall separating us and I could swear his eyes had a malevolent glee shining in them.
"Scared to be in the men's washroom, Cam? You really need to loosen up a bit."
I waved steam away from my face and scowled.
"You're the one that needs to loosen up, Mr. I-can't-handle-a-little-sweat."
"It wasn't a little sweat Camille, you happened to intrude upon a serious high-intensity workout."
"Uh huh." I replied, sounding as skeptical as ever.
There was a moment of silence and then Eli decided to be a pest again.
"You're trying to change the subject, aren't you? I expect an explanation as to what you were doing in that ridiculous get-up."
The rushing water was concealing our voices well, I had to admit.
"Are you sure you want to know?" I said finally, sighing, "There's a reason I didn't tell you earlier, you know."
"Well now that I know that you could tell me something that you didn't tell me earlier for some tell-tale reason, you can probably tell that I want you to tell me. Please, do tell."
"Stop it Eli," I grumbled, half annoyed and half amused, "Did I really look that bad as a blonde?"
"Camille." he said seriously, "Spit it out. I can take it."
He stepped out, dressed in a deep purple bathrobe with a matching towel wrapped around his head, and sat on the floor opposite me. The water was still running and I found myself focusing on the sound, the harsh pattering of every drop against the ground.
I looked up, too conflicted to laugh at Eli's outfit, and sighed again.
At that moment I realized just how much I sighed. It was almost a reflex reaction for me to every situation. Life, for me, had been constant disappointment. Disappointment in the circumstances, in humanity, and in myself.
Eli's blue eye was fixated on me, demanding the truth, whereas the brown eye beside it seemed to regard me with a warm compassion.
He was the only friend I had for years. He was the greatest friend I could have asked for.
He deserved to know.
I moved to sit beside him so that I didn't have to meet his gaze.
My lips moved and sound came out but I couldn't hear it. I knew I was explaining everything, letting every minute detail leave me and crash into Eli like the drops of water still slapping the tiles.
It seemed like hours later when I was finished and found the courage to turn to him and gauge his reaction.
He pulled the wig off my head and the scarf away from my face.
"Never hide anything from me again, Camille St. Croix."
His hand was still lingering by my cheek and I felt my face burning.
I wanted to reply, to say anything, but I couldn't move. The sound of the water running was quiet in comparison to the sound of my heart pounding in my ears. My head was spinning even though I wasn't moving at all. I couldn't look away from his eyes.
What was Eli doing to me?
I may have been hallucinating, but the space between us seemed to be shrinking. The stylish purple towel had fallen from Eli's head to the floor.
When the sound of the door opening reached my ears I almost fell over in shock. Eli threw the towel over my head rapidly and I pretended to be drying my hair, turning away from whoever had just come in to hide my face.
"Why hello, Elijah." a voice came, one that made me want to puke.
"Hey, Admiral." Eli replied, in his awkward politeness.
Walk away now Wiseacre, walk away.
"Who's your friend?" he asked, probably pointing at me with his cane.
"This is, uh....George. One of the stage crew."
"Ah. Most curious. Elijah, George, I take your leave. I have to attend to my business."
He chuckled at his own joke and as soon as he had taken a few paces away I lifted the towel half off my face, grabbed Eli and practically flew out of the place.
That was terrifying. All of it.