She sees him on the boat and then not for weeks: Riley and Will sail off into the sunset and Wolfgang falls off the map, disappearing into his portion of the world and closing himself off in such a way that none of the others can find him. Kala didn’t think that was possible – but then again, in this strange new world she’s living in, what isn’t?
“You look ill,” Rajan tells her in the third week, standing in the tearoom outside his father’s suite, and there is a sudden flash of Felix – Conan – unconscious in a similar bed, tied to familiar machines. She has spent too much time in hospitals, here and elsewhere.
“I haven’t been sleeping well,” she admits, and Rajan’s hands find her waist. The smile her fiancé gives her is tired, a dimmed version of his Bollywood leading-man grin, and guilt blooms in the spaces between her heartbeats when he leans down to kiss her cheek.
“Go home,” he tells her, “Get some rest. I’ll stay,” and it is surprising, how easy it is to leave. Kala has walked the streets of San Francisco, sat on Lito’s sofa in Mexico City, spent hours kneeling in Ganesh’s temple and still she cannot find peace; it isn’t until she finds herself alone in an empty hospital stairwell that the nervousness finally settles, drawn out by that increasingly familiar tug at the edge of her senses. There is a push and pull to visiting their cluster that is fascinating, disorienting: Kala feels both the fluorescent lights and the cool breeze of Berlin, the brick under her feet as recognizable as linoleum tile. Wolfgang is both a step before and behind her, and the change in light when he finally turns to face her makes her dizzy.
“You haven’t left,” she starts, “We weren’t sure –”
Wolfgang does not stop walking, skulking down the alleyway, the staircase, like a man with something to hide. He brushes off her words like an irksome fly and when he stops her – her back against the wall, her back against the railing – there is the glint of a gun in the waistband of his jeans. She can feel it without even touching him. What next? goes unsaid between them, their bodies tense as wires; Kala knows that if he runs, he will keep running. Sergei’s associates have been hunting him but still he has not fled Berlin, and again there is Felix, in his room with high windows – Rajan’s father, his blood on the temple stairs.
Wolfgang does not speak as he bears down on her, a great looming shape in the shifting light. A muscle twitches in his jaw and Kala watches his Adam’s apple bob as he swallows, imagining the words pressed there – German, Hindi, who knows. He reaches for her and then stops himself; his hand flutters like a moth at her side, wide and pale, all too brief. Kala curls her fingers into the collar of his jacket and holds him there, the reality of the distance between them unimaginable from the way he looks at her. The light in the staircase flickers, their shadows grow longer on the pavement, and when she kisses him she can see rooftops and rivers and long, tree-lined roads; when she kisses him she can see Riley below deck, Will’s head in her lap; she sees Sun in the prison yard, tilting her face up toward the afternoon sunlight.