I have to say, those hours in my lab, waiting for Clayton to come around or at least stop shifting, hoping he wouldn’t die, were some of the longest in my life. It was so hard, watching him like that. He was my best friend. He was supposed to do great things. Amazing things.
Instead, he might be dying, never having accepted that he really was a hero or that he could do cool things.
And hating spandex.
I didn’t really expect his opinion of spandex to change if he came out of this alive, but still, I wanted him to have that chance to be a hero, to be so much more than I could ever hope to be. Besides, if he didn’t wake up, I was pretty sure that April was going to kill me, despite refusing to tear up my favorite costume.
“April, I’m not sure that we can wait any longer. I’ve tried looking for the files on the experiment, on Kilbourne, but they seem to have wiped almost everything about him out of existence. I only know what I know because I was there when he was still being talked about. And this isn’t good. We don’t know what we need to help him. Maybe they might.”
“They almost got him killed,” she said coldly, running her finger’s through Clayton’s currently white hair and looking dangerous again. “No, Larabee. I don’t trust any of them. I’m not asking them for help.”
“But it could mean the difference between life and death for Clayton, and you know you can’t ignore that.”
“Can’t I?” she countered. “I don’t have to be reasonable right now. Clayton is my husband, and they almost killed him. They let his life be one long experiment—and don’t say that’s not what it was. It was one. They might not have done what Kilbourne set out to do, but they let him have this so-called normal life all the while watching and manipulating things, and that is not what they should have done. Even if they didn’t want to tell him when he was a kid, when he was twenty and knew what he could do and was working for him, they should have told him! Instead, they let him wander through his life thinking he was half-insane or a genetic freak. They didn’t even give him the decency of a real income or a trust fund when they know he couldn’t realistically hold down a different job with his random shifts. They used you. They used me. That is unacceptable.”
“I know you’re angry,” Larabee agreed. He didn’t want to argue with her. She had valid points. It was just that she was being a little irrational with Clayton’s life here. “I just want to make sure he lives before we make people pay, okay?”
She sighed, moving back as Clayton shifted again, this time into a child of about ten. She grimaced and brought him back into her arms again. “It has slowed down, though, Larabee. He’s not shifting as much.”
“That’s not necessarily a good sign.”
She closed her eyes for a moment. “A little while longer. Maybe… Tomorrow. If the shifts haven’t stopped and he’s still unconscious, then you can contact them. Not before.”
“Maybe you should get some rest, too,” Larabee suggested, and she nodded absently. She had no intention of doing it. She’d be right there next to Clayton no matter what happened. Larabee turned and walked away, going back to his costumes. He didn’t know how else to keep his mind off of what wasn’t happening. Clayton needed to wake up already. It felt like it was taking way too long, and Larabee was worried that it wasn’t going to happen at all.
He picked up his scissors and started cutting the fabric. He knew exactly what April’s costume needed to be.
“Here. You should eat, even if you’re not going to sleep.”
April nodded wearily, taking the bowl of soup from Larabee and sipping from it instead of attempting to use the spoon. He looked at Clayton. They’d tried giving him water earlier—he’d spit it up all over when he shifted, so they’d quietly agreed not to give him anything else until the shifts were all over.
“How long has it been?”
“Almost an hour since the last one,” April said with a slight smile. “I think they’re about over.”
“I just hope that’s a good thing.”
“Don’t make me throw this soup at you,” she warned, leaning down to kiss Clayton’s forehead. He looked like his usual self at the moment, but that might not last. “I think the worst is over.”
“I hope so.”
She finished drinking the soup and set the bowl to the side. “I didn’t see it at first.”
“How special he is.”
“Not even he sees that.”
“He needs to live so he can see that, so that he can do so much more. It’s not all about this thing he can do, but even with it—he could do so much more than he realizes,” she said, reaching for Clayton’s hand and wrapping her fingers in his. “And he can have a bit of a normal life. With me.”
“The super spy type lady he got lucky and found,” Larabee agreed, and April shot him a dirty look. He turned and picked up the costume. “Well? What do you think?”
“A mini-skirt? Really?”
Larabee shrugged. “You have nice legs. Clayton says they’re distracting. You should use that to your advantage.”
“Larabee, never say anything like that to me again or I will have to—Clayton?”
Larabee set the costume aside, bending down so that he was eye level with Clayton, trying to see if his eyes had, in fact, tried to open. “Spandex?”
“Get away from me, Larabee.”
“Damn, it’s good to hear your voice.”
“Not so good,” Clayton groaned, rolling over. “I have to puke.”
And then he did, right on Larabee’s shoes.