Robert bravely wiped the blood from Julian’s face. Punch didn’t recoil, but let the doctor help him.
“You think by showing me some kindness, you’ll wash away your sins?” Punch hissed.
“I’m in a precarious position.” Robert replied gently. “Mr. Punch, you do have my loyalty. However, I do care for Julian. Since you both occupy the same body, what was I to do? Julian, justly, has a right to know that he shares the use of his shell with two minds. In order to treat one of you with respect, I needed to betray the confidence of the other.”
“Oh, poor doctor!” Punch laughed. “How difficult it must be for you.”
“It is rather.” Robert smiled.
Punch didn’t reply.
“You know very well that you won’t harm me.” Robert continued. “If for no other reason than you need me.”
“I need no one! I can beat the Devil!” Punch spat.
“Maybe so—when you are left to our own devices. However, as you say, you are lost, and rather trapped within Julian for the present. Julian needs me, ergo, you need me.” Robert leaned back on the bed—attempting to look at ease though he was anything but.
“Fix my head.” Punch growled.
“I can do nothing more than tend to Julian’s head.” Robert sat up again.
“Well, do that, then. Only it’s my head what’s split—cleaved in two!” Punch croaked.
“For now, Julian has a scrape.” Robert nodded. “I can only help with that.”
“So, do it!” Punch grumbled.
Robert pressed a clean cloth to Julian’s scalp. “You realize that he would have to know about you, Mr. Punch? You surely must have known that it was necessary.”
“I’m not sayin’ you’re correct.” Punch hissed. “Supposin’ it’s too much for the man?”
“Now that he knows, he will be of more assistance. Together, we can find you and restore you to what…whatever it is that you are.”
“I’m loathe to admit it,” Punch sighed, “only we do need you. Julian ain’t going to find Barbara by his own self. And, when we find Barbara, we’ll find me.”
“You’re sure of that?” Robert asked.
“Yes, yes, I’m sure!” Punch responded angrily. “My father is dead! He was the only one what knew of the secret in my head. Him and Julian. But, see Julian don’t remember. I’m guessing that Barbara somehow found out about the secret. That’s why my head got slashed. I know Julian didn’t tell her—maybe one of the others…”
“Others?” Robert asked, applying a bandage to Julian’s head.
“Never you mind about that!” Punch winced.
“What’s this secret you speak of?” Robert questioned the “puppet.”
“My mind!” Punch growled. “The thing what made me what I am!”
“Your spirit?” Robert squinted.
“No, you fool! My mind! That blue stone—all glittering and bright. My father’s treasure!”
Robert looked to the ring on Julian’s right hand—the blue diamond flashing a light of warning with each grasping of Punch’s will and Julian’s fist.
“The stone? I know of it. The Molliner Blue?”
“That’s what made me special.” Punch muttered. “But, she took it! Split my head, she did! I know she must have done.”
Robert drew in a deep breath. “You look weary, Mr. Punch. Perhaps you’d best let Julian come back for awhile.”
“No.” Punch grinned. “Julian ain’t no good to us now.”
Did you miss Chapters 1-27? If so, you can read them here.