Adam looks toward the wall, laughs, looks back at me.
“Are you even hearing yourself right now?” he asks. “You’re telling me you want to jump in front of a bunch of soldiers and tell them how much you hate The Reestablishment, just to prove a point? Just so they can kill you before your eighteenth birthday? That doesn’t make any sense,” he says. “It doesn’t serve anything. And this doesn’t sound like you,” he says, shaking his head. “I thought you wanted to live on your own. You never wanted to be caught up in war—you just wanted to be free of Warner and the asylum and your crazy parents. I thought you’d be happy to be done with all the fighting.”
“What are you talking about?” I say. “I’ve always said I wanted to fight back. I’ve said it from the beginning—from the moment I told you I wanted to escape when we were on base. This is me,” I insist. “This is how I feel. It’s the same way I’ve always felt.”
“No,” he says. “No, we didn’t leave base to start a war. We left to get the hell away from The Reestablishment, to resist in our own way, but most of all to find a life together. But then Kenji showed up and took us to Omega Point and everything changed, and we decided to fight back. Because it seemed like it might actually work—because it seemed like we might actually have a chance. But now”—he looks around the room, at the closed door—“what do we have left? We’re all half dead,” he says. “We are eight poorly armed men and women and one ten-year-old boy trying to fight entire armies. It’s just not feasible,” he says. “And if I’m going to die, I don’t want it to be for a stupid reason. If I go to war—if I risk my life—it’s going to be because the odds are in my favor. Not otherwise.”
“I don’t think it’s stupid to fight for humanity—”
“You have no idea what you’re saying,” he snaps, his jaw tensing. “There’s nothing we can do now.”
“There’s always something, Adam. There has to be. Because I won’t live like this anymore. Not ever again.”
“Juliette, please,” he says, his words desperate all of a sudden, anguished. “I don’t want you to get killed—I don’t want to lose you again—”
“This isn’t about you, Adam.” I feel terrible saying it, but he has to understand. “You’re so important to me. You’ve loved me and you were there for me when no one else was. I never want you to think I don’t care about you, because I do,” I tell him. “But this decision has nothing to do with you. It’s about me,” I tell him. “And this life”—I point to the door—“the life on the other side of that wall? That’s not what I want.”
My words only seem to upset him more.
“Then you’d rather be dead?” he asks, angry again. “Is that what you’re saying? You’d rather be dead than try to build a life with me here?”
“I would rather be dead,” I say to him, inching away from his outstretched hand, “than go back to being silent and suffocated.”
And Adam is just about to respond—he’s parting his lips to speak—when the sounds of chaos reach us from the other side of the wall. We share one panicked look before yanking the bedroom door open and rushing into the living room.
My heart stops. Starts. Stops again.
Warner is here.
He’s standing at the front door, hands shoved casually in his pockets, no fewer than six different guns pointed at his face. My mind is racing as it tries to process what to do next, how best to proceed. But Warner’s face changes seasons as I enter the room: the cold line of his mouth blossoms into a bright smile. His eyes shine as he grins at me, not seeming to mind or even notice the many lethal weapons aimed in his direction.
I can’t help but wonder how he found me.
I begin to move forward but Adam grabs my arm. I turn around, wondering at my sudden irritation with him. I’m almost irritated with myself for being irritated with him. This is not how I imagined it would be to see Adam again. I don’t want it to be this way. I want to start over.
“What are you doing?” Adam says to me. “Don’t go near him.”
I stare at his hand on my arm. Look up to meet his gaze.
Adam doesn’t budge.
“Let go of me,” I say to him.
His face clears all of a sudden, like he’s startled, somehow. He looks down at his hand; releases me without a word.
I put as much space between us as I can, the whole time scanning the room for Kenji. His sharp black eyes meet mine immediately and he raises one eyebrow; his head is cocked to the side, the twitch of his lips telling me the next move is mine and I’d better make it count. I part my way through my friends until I’m standing in front of Warner, facing my friends and their guns and hoping they won’t fire at me instead.
I make an effort to sound calm. “Please,” I say. “Don’t shoot him.”
“And why the hell not?” Ian demands, his grip tightening around his gun.
“Juliette, love,” Warner says, leaning into my ear. His voice is still loud enough for everyone to hear. “I do appreciate you defending me, but really, I’m quite able to handle the situation.”
“It’s eight against one,” I say to him, forgetting my fear in the temptation to roll my eyes. “They’ve all got guns pointed at your face. I’m pretty sure you need my interference.”
I hear him laugh behind me, just once, just before every gun in the room is yanked out of every hand and thrown up against the ceiling. I spin around in shock, catching a glimpse of the astonishment on every face behind me.
“Why do you always hesitate?” Warner asks, shaking his head as he glances around the room. “Shoot if you want to shoot. Don’t waste my time with theatrics.”
“How the hell did you do that?” Ian demands.
Warner says nothing. He tugs off his gloves carefully, pulling at each finger before slipping them off his hands.
“It’s okay,” I tell him. “They already know.”
Warner looks up. Raises an eyebrow at me. Smiles a little. “Do they really?”
“Yes. I told them.”
Warner’s smile changes into something almost self-mocking as he turns away, his eyes laughing as he contemplates the ceiling. Finally he nods at Castle, who’s staring at the commotion with a vaguely displeased expression. “I borrowed,” Warner says to Ian, “from present company.”