This was what Lieut had both feared and expected for the past fourteen years. Not accelerated bone and tissue growth, but something to physically manifest and show that the boy he'd been protecting was indeed a part of human experimentation. He'd assumed as much when the child had no mental or emotional connections to anything universally standard to childhood. He was nearly convinced by the boy's intellect alone.
Collin was examining the tissue sample from the severed finger. He'd run blood tests and done check ups for Alden annually. Nothing had come up as unusual until today.
Alden was sitting on the floor of his bed room at the foot of his bed. He was staring at his hands, trying to figure out what was wrong with him. Delia knocked on the door.
"Not up for it," he said, but she opened the door anyways.
"Geez," he said, not moving from his spot on the floor and not turning to look at her. "What if I had been changing clothes or something."
"As if there's anything new for me to see," she laughed. "Unless you've grown more than just a pinky finger."
That remark just made him angry and he could feel heat pulsing in his ears and cheeks.
"I was just teasing," that was what she said any time she felt bad about what she'd said.
She sat down on the floor in the small space between him and his bookshelf. She took both of his hands in hers. He pulled them away instinctively and she grabbed them again.
"Let me look, you weirdo."
"You are doing the opposite of helping."
She turned his hands over in hers, marveling at the size of them. They were pointy and veiny around his knuckles. The tips of his fingers were squared off. Like Collin's. When did his hands turn into those of a man? He pulled them away again, but more gently.
"What if I'm going to die?"
"You're healing super fast. That's the opposite of dying."
He scratched the back of his neck. He felt like a little kid. She picked up his right hand, squeezed it, then held onto it.
"Have you talked to Lu yet?" She asked.
He shook his head.
Lu was in the clinic with Collin. They acted like this was a new development in some on going plot, but he had no clue what was going on.
He had tried not to think about how he'd become an orphan or why Lu had adopted him. He didn't remember having a mother. He only ever heard Lu talk about having a late sister sparingly with strangers. He never talked about her with Alden or Collin. There were no pictures. In fact, there were no pictures of Lu's family, period. Nothing at all. Like he was a ghost. What did that make Alden?
"You aren't a ghost, Alden," she had pulled his old Lego set out from under his bed and started building a spire. "You have a birth certificate. Ghosts sneak down alleyways with minimal paperwork or identification. Ghosts don't exist in the system."
"What if I was a ghost when I was a kid?"
She rolled her eyes.
But then she thought about how they lived.
She remembered playing with her cousins and going to daycare when she was little, but those memories end pretty abruptly when her mom married Collin.
"I need to show you something," she said and stood quickly, toppling the spire. "Come on."