For the first time, Dr. Banks looked unsure. “You knew Dr. Cale was Nathan’s mother.”
“Because you told me she was.” I shook my head. “I’m here because I didn’t know where else to go. The last time I was here, Chave tried to kill me, and you locked me in a little room in the basement with people who wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. Do you really think I’d be here now if there was someplace else? I’m so uncomfortable right now.” I didn’t have to force tears to well up in my eyes. The churning panic in my gut brought them leaping to the surface. “I didn’t come here so you could accuse me of working against you. I had an accident, and now you’re acting like you’ve only been nice to me all this time because you thought you could use me. I thought you were different from my family, Dr. Banks. I thought you cared.”
That last part was a lie, but it came close enough on the heels of the truth that he didn’t appear to notice the difference. His face fell, and he rose from his chair, already reaching for me. “Sally, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. Please, I never wanted you to think of yourself as just a tool…”
I shied away from his hands, putting my head down on my backpack and sobbing in earnest. It seemed easier than trying to talk to him. I didn’t know what else there was to say, and his words were still careening madly around the inside of my skull, looking for things to knock loose. I had an accident. Sally Mitchell had an accident. Or did she? After all, the girl she left behind was never going to tell anyone any different. The girl she left behind wasn’t going to tell anyone anything at all about the last minutes of Sally’s life. That girl didn’t know.
I had forgotten something in Dr. Cale’s lab, hadn’t I? Something I wasn’t ready to remember yet…
I kept crying. Joyce was sick. My mother didn’t want me anymore. My father was willing to lie to me if he thought it would help him learn more about the sleepwalking sickness. Even Dr. Banks was saying it had never been about me and my recovery at all: it had been about using me to get to the secrets he thought he might be able to weasel out of my father.
“Sally, I’m sorry.”
He sounded sincere. I raised my head, wiping away my tears as I looked at him. He looked back, hands spread in surrender.
“What do you want me to say?” he asked. “You know nothing is ever as simple as you want it to be. SymboGen is not the enemy here, but you were willing to let us be if it meant you didn’t have to trust people who weren’t always as comfortable as the ones you’d chosen to surround yourself with. No one has only your best interests at heart. Not me, not your parents… and not Dr. Cale. Whether you’ve met her or not, you should keep that in mind for when she does manage to catch up to you—and she is going to find you, Sally. She’s not the good to my evil. She’s not going to solve all of your problems with a wave of her hand and a cup of hot cocoa. You’re smart enough to know better than that. People like us… we don’t get easy answers like that.”
“Did you cause my accident?” I asked in a very small voice.
“No, Sally. SymboGen has never caused you to have an accident.” Dr. Banks sighed. “What can I do to convince you that we’re on the same side?”
The thumb drive with the stolen data Dr. Cale needed was safe in my pocket, pressed in a solid, reassuring line against my hip. “Can I… this is silly, I know, but can I have an ultrasound?”
Now it was Dr. Banks’s turn to look confused. “You want an ultrasound?”
“Sometimes… I have trouble going to sleep. I haven’t slept much since I found out Joyce was sick. I can’t. But I always sleep in the gel ultrasound chamber. I know it’s a big thing to ask, but…”
Confusion melted into relief as Dr. Banks grasped what I was asking. “No, it’s no trouble at all. I’ll call down to Dr. Sanjiv and Dr. McGillis, and let them know they’re needed at the lab. It won’t hurt anything for us to have more data on your progress, and if it means that you get to rest for a little while, that’s even better.”
“Thank you.” I wiped my face again. “I hate to impose.”
“After the week you’ve had, I think a little imposition is completely justified.” Dr. Banks straightened, back on familiar ground: I was going to submit to medical tests, and he was going to pay for them. The fact that my things would be entirely unguarded during the process was just a bonus, something to be taken advantage of only if necessary.
He was probably going to find it necessary. I would have been worried about that, if I’d had any intention of actually getting into the ultrasound machine.
“Thank you,” I repeated, standing. I hugged my backpack against my chest as it moved, forcing myself to shelter it, and not my pocket, from any casual study. Don’t think about the thumb drive, I thought sternly. Focus on the backpack.
It seemed to be working, or maybe Dr. Banks was just eager to get his hands on my notebook again. His eyes, when they weren’t on my face, went to the backpack, tracking its motion across the office. “Do you mind if I walk you down?” he asked. “I don’t have a new personal assistant yet, and I’d hate to think of you getting lost on your way to the lab.”
Even with as many times as I had been down there, it was a reasonable concern: I’d never made the trip without Sherman, Chave, or both of them escorting me. “Not at all,” I said, and managed to muster a wavering smile. “I’d appreciate the company.”