“I was watching you sleep, just in case you, you know. Had a bad dream or something.” Adam shrugged, looking suddenly awkward. “I have bad dreams sometimes, and it helps if I’m not alone when I wake up.”
I blinked at him, trying to wrap my mind around what he was saying. If Dr. Cale was telling the truth about what she’d been able to do—and I had no reason to doubt her, even if Nathan wasn’t quite so sure—I was talking to a tapeworm that had been given full control of its very own human body. And that same tapeworm had been watching me sleep, just in case I had bad dreams.
This situation was creepy on so many levels that I didn’t even know where to begin. Adam was still watching me earnestly. It was clear that he had no idea that I could construe what he’d been doing as even remotely wrong. Why should he? If Dr. Cale and Tansy were his models for normal human behavior, standing there staring at me while I was unconscious probably seemed like a totally reasonable thing to do.
“Oh,” I said. That didn’t seem like enough. I hesitated before adding, “I have bad dreams too, sometimes. Thank you for watching me.”
Adam looked relieved, and smiled. “I was glad to do it. Mom and my big broth—um. Mom and Nathan are arguing right now. He wanted to leave when you fainted, but she convinced him that he should stay until you woke up at least, and listen to what she had to tell him.”
“What was that?” I asked, feeling obscurely stung. Never mind that they were probably discussing all the scientific details of the D. symbogenesis design, and those would have been over my head anyway; we came here because I wanted answers, and I should have been included in the process of getting them.
“Why she never contacted him after she left SymboGen.” Adam’s smile faded. “He’s really upset about that. He doesn’t believe her when she says I’m his brother, and he doesn’t believe Mom had good reasons for doing what she did.”
“I…” I stopped. Finally, I scooted to the side, patting the cot with one hand. Feeling a little silly, I said, “Why don’t you come and sit down?” Adam wasn’t going to hurt me, and I’d be more comfortable if he wasn’t looming over me.
“Okay,” said Adam. He obediently trotted over to sit down on the other end of the cot, beaming like he’d just been invited to his first real party.
Having him that close was almost worse than having him looming had been. I swallowed my anxiety—I was the one who asked him to sit down, I would live with it—and said, “Family is important to Nathan. It’s so important that he told me his mother was dead right after we started dating. That’s how sad he was that she was gone from his life. So finding out she was here with you this whole time is hard for him. It hurts him.” Inspiration struck, and I added, “How would you feel if you found out your mother had gone away to live with another family for years and years, and never even called to let you know she was still alive?”
“Sad,” said Adam, after a pause to consider his options. “But happy, too, because it would mean my mother was still alive, when I would have been worried that she wasn’t.”
I blinked. That wasn’t the answer I’d been expecting. “It wouldn’t bother you that she’d been off doing things without letting you know that she was all right?”
“No. Should it?” Adam asked the question with apparently honest curiosity, giving me a hopeful look at the same time, like I was somehow going to unsnarl all the mysteries of human behavior. Boy, was he going to be disappointed if he started looking at me as someone who knew what the hell she was talking about.
“Um.” This time, I thought a little more before I opened my mouth. It didn’t help as much as I’d been hoping it would. “That depends,” I said, finally. “Don’t you like to know what your mother is doing?”
“I can’t always,” he said. “Sometimes she has to go away for days, and I can’t go with her, because it’s not safe.”
“It’s not safe?” I echoed, and frowned. “Why not?” Adam looked perfectly normal. As long as he didn’t start talking about being a tapeworm in a human suit, he wasn’t likely to run into anything terribly dangerous—and even if he did, it wasn’t like that was illegal or anything. Anyone who heard him would just assume he was crazy. Heck, I had scientists with diagrams trying to make me understand how he could be a tapeworm in a human suit, and I still kind of thought he might be crazy.
Adam shrugged. “Sometimes it’s not safe because she’s going places that aren’t safe. Like South America. And Africa, once. She took Tansy when she went to Africa, because she said it wasn’t safe for her, but having Tansy with her would make da—darn sure that it wasn’t safe for anyone else, either.”
His hastily edited “damn” struck me as oddly charming. It was like talking to one of the kids who came into the shelter to look at the kittens and puppies. “But you couldn’t go with her, because it wasn’t safe.”
“Yeah.” Adam nodded earnestly. “Tansy makes it a little safer by being dangerous at people, so they back off being dangerous at Mom. But I don’t do that, because I’m not dangerous at anyone. I’d just be something else for them to be dangerous at. Anyway, I do okay with helping in the lab, but I can’t help too much in the field. I just get in the way and drop things that aren’t supposed to be dropped.”