I’m nodding, trying to thank him.
But he’s still looking at me, searching my eyes like he’s found something he can’t bear to walk away from. His hands move to my face; his thumb brushes my cheek. His voice is so tender when he speaks.
“You will go on to greatness,” he whispers. “I have never deserved you.”
He leans in, kisses my forehead, so gently.
And then he leaves.
I’m still watching the elevator doors close when I catch a glimpse of Adam out of the corner of my eye. He walks up to me.
“Hey,” he says. He looks nervous, uncomfortable.
He’s nodding, staring at his feet. “So,” he says. Blows out a breath. He’s still not looking at me. “Nice show.”
I’m not really sure what to say. So I say nothing.
Adam sighs. “You really have changed,” he whispers. “Haven’t you?”
“Yes. I have.”
He nods, just once. Laughs a strange laugh. And walks away.
We’re all sitting around again.
Talking. Discussing. Thinking and planning. James is snoring soundly in the corner.
We’re all caught somewhere between being excited and being terrified, and yet, somehow, we’re mostly excited. This is, after all, what everyone at Omega Point had always been planning; they’d joined Castle hoping it would one day come to this.
A chance to defeat The Reestablishment.
They’ve all been training for this. Even Adam, who somehow convinced himself to stand with us, has been a soldier. Kenji, a soldier. All of them in peak physical condition. They are all fighters; even Alia, whose quiet shell contains so much. I couldn’t have asked for a more solid group of individuals.
“So when do you think he’ll be here?” Ian is asking. “Tomorrow?”
“Maybe,” Kenji says. “But I don’t think it’ll take him more than two days.”
“I thought he was on a ship? In the middle of the ocean?” Lily asks. “How is he supposed to get here in two days?”
“I don’t think it’s the kind of ship you’re thinking of,” Castle says to her. “I imagine he is on an army vessel; one equipped with a landing strip. If he calls for a jet, they will deliver him to us.”
“Wow.” Brendan leans back, rests on his hands. “This is really happening, then? The supreme commander of The Reestablishment. Winston and I never saw him, not once, even though his men were holding us captive.” He shakes his head. Glances at me. “What does he look like?”
“He’s extremely handsome,” I say.
Lily laughs out loud.
“I’m serious,” I say to her. “It’s almost sick how beautiful he is.”
“Really?” Winston is staring at me, eyes wide.
Kenji nods. “Very pretty guy.”
Lily is gawking.
“And you said his name is Anderson?” Alia asks.
“That’s strange,” Lily says. “I always thought Warner’s last name was Warner, not Anderson.” She thinks for a second. “So his name is Warner Anderson?”
“No,” I say to her. “You’re right. Warner is his last name—but not his dad’s. He took his mom’s last name,” I say. “He didn’t want to be associated with his father.”
We all look at him.
“So what’s Warner’s first name?” Ian asks. “Do you know?”
“And?” Winston asks. “You’re not going to tell us?”
“Ask him yourself,” I say. “If he wants to tell you, I’m sure he will.”
“Yeah, that’s not going to happen,” Winston says. “I’m not asking that guy personal questions.”
I try not to laugh.
“So—do you know Anderson’s first name?” Ian asks. “Or is that a secret, too? I mean this whole thing is really weird, right? That they’d be so secretive about their names?”
“Oh,” I say, caught off guard. “I’m not sure. There’s a lot of power in a name, I guess. And no,” I say, shaking my head. “I don’t actually know Anderson’s first name. I never asked.”
“You’re not missing anything,” Adam says, irritated. “It’s a stupid name.” He’s staring at his shoes. “His name is Paris.”
“How did you know that?”
I spin around and find Warner standing just outside the open elevator. It’s still pinging softly, only just now signaling his arrival. The doors close behind him. He’s staring at Adam in shock.
Adam blinks fast at Warner and then at us, unsure what to do.
“How did you know that?” Warner demands again. He walks right through our group and grabs Adam by the shirt, moving so quickly Adam has no time to react.
He pins him against the wall.
I’ve never heard Warner raise his voice like this before. Never seen him so angry. “Who do you answer to, soldier?” he shouts. “Who is your commander?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Adam yells back. He tries breaking away and Warner grabs him with both fists, shoving him harder against the wall.
I’m beginning to panic.
“How long have you been working for him?” Warner shouts again. “How long have you been infiltrating my base—”
I jump to my feet. Kenji is close behind.
“Warner,” I say, “please, he’s not a spy—”
“There’s no way he could know something like that,” Warner says to me, still looking at Adam. “Not unless he is a member of the Supreme Guard, where even then it would be questionable. A foot soldier would never have that kind of information—”
“I’m not a Supreme Soldier,” Adam tries to say, “I swear—”
“Liar,” Warner barks, shoving him harder against the wall. Adam’s shirt is starting to tear. “Why were you sent here? What is your mission? Has he sent you to kill me?”
“Warner,” I call again, pleading this time, running forward until I’m in his line of vision. “Please—he’s not working for the supreme, I promise—”