“Are you all right?” a voice beside me asked.
I squeaked, jumping around to face the speaker. He was right next to me and I hadn’t even noticed him approach.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” The boy looked to be about my age, worry written plainly across his face. His voice was pleasant and kind, although there also seemed to be a hint of sympathy lying just below the surface.
“It’s fine,” I said, brushing away his worry. I tried to discreetly draw a long breath, but he noticed.
“Do you know him? Are you family?” The sympathy grew more pronounced. Apparently the prognosis for this guy wasn’t good.
I glanced back to the bed in room 514, trying to think of an excuse for my presence, but I could only think about the boy; he seemed magnetic somehow. I didn’t know why, but he reminded me a lot of Mouse. He even looked similar to her, I decided; his dark eyes were warm and comforting, and his light brown hair flopped over them.
He appeared young, too young to be working in the ICU. He wore scrubs though, and he had an official identification tag hanging around his neck.
I shook my head sharply a few times to bring me back to my senses. “No, I mean… No, I don’t know him.” My voice trailed off. I sounded pathetic.
“Okay,” he replied gently, “I’m afraid visiting hours are over now anyway, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. I’m sorry.”
I nodded dumbly, remembering the last time I’d left here. My eyes watered as I turned and walked back to the security door.
“Are you okay?” He kept pace beside me.
I nodded again.
He flicked the switch, which released the door, and held it open for me to leave. He was about to shut the door behind me when I snapped back to the present.
“Wait!” I called, almost frantically, as the door swung shut. I half expected him to ignore me and let the door close, but he caught it and pushed it open again.
There were so many things I wanted to know; it couldn’t hurt to try and find some of the answers now. We couldn’t do anything about Nicole until tonight and there was still more than an hour before I was supposed to meet Mouse.
“How long do you keep records here?” I blurted out.
“Oh.” He hadn’t been expecting that question. “Seven years for hard copies, and pretty much forever for electronic versions.”
My mood lightened—only slightly.
He saw the change in my expression. “Why do you want to know?”
“My mom, she died here. My sister and I were adopted and they said our birth-mom had a sister too, but she lived abroad at the time and they couldn’t contact her,” I lied. “We’ve never met her, but our guardians have their own children now and we really want to find out what her name is so we can track her down.”
What would he have said if I’d told him the truth, that I’m a genetically engineered hybrid on the run from the people who made me? I thought they killed our mom, and they’d kidnapped my sister… real believable.
It was his turn to remain speechless this time. His brow furrowed in concentration.
A dark strand of hair fell across my face. I lifted my hand to push it away and his eyes locked on my wrist. I couldn’t quite understand the expression on his face while he stared, as if there were a spider sitting there. I glanced up. My sleeve had pulled away from my hand, exposing my tattoo.
“Come with me.”