[18] Sage

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The next few days pass in the same monotonous schedule. I sleep for long periods of time - longer than ever before - as my internal clock widens and eventually disappears. On Earth, said clock was set by the sun. While I was in the asylum, it was reinforced by my feeding times. Here, we eat whenever we want and our day starts when we rise. It's off-putting for the others, but luckily, the Voice handles it well.

Since most of my day is spent sleeping, my few remaining hours are entirely devoted to physical therapy, drums (which are, in their own way, a form of physical and emotional therapy), and watching Jake play video games.

I am growing stronger at a very quick rate. The pills also help phenomenally without the nasty side effect of pain that my exercise gives. The others still aren't happy at my receiving special treatment - at least, Nicole and Xavier aren't - but they have no power here. It is all in the hands of the Albinos.

Jake no longer has to carry me anywhere by the fifth day of physical therapy - I am strong enough to use my legs. 

Which is good, because the Trials begin on the sixth, as we were informed last night.

"I wonder what they're going to be," Deirdre murmurs, voicing all of our thoughts.

"Probably something horrible," Nicole points out. "If our screening or mapping or whatever was just a preliminary test..."

We all fall silent, pondering this. I'm sure they are all remembering the pain of their memory screenings. There was no such pain for me. Is that an indicator that the Trials are going to be easy?

Jake isn't nearly as good at his video games after that conversation. I no longer have to stop playing my drums out of fatigue, but I enjoy watching him, so I eventually walk over to him, still relishing the feeling of being able to use my legs.

He curses as he misses yet another easy shot at an opposing team member. "That makes five in a row," I whisper helpfully, and he glares at me before returning his attention to the game.

As I often do now, I stand up and start walking in circles. It is such an odd feeling to walk once more than whenever I get bored or the others start talking about uncomfortable topics, I just walk in circles and think about how odd it is that I've recovered so fast. The process is strangely relaxing.

"Am I that boring?" Jake asks dryly.

"What do you mean?" I ask innocently.

"You only walk in circles when you're bored. Am I really that boring?" Jake points out.

"Wow, you're good. I didn't know you were that smart - no offense. And yes, you are boring. You've missed five bad guys in a row and from the sounds I'm currently hearing, you're being gutted as we speak."

Jake whirls back to the screen and groans in frustration. "I've failed this level twice now!"

"When's the last time you failed a level?"

"Before I was on drugs," he mutters. I've noticed that he's grown more comfortable with mentioning his former drug addictions, even if it's not his most favorite topic in the world.

"Well, the streak had to end at some point," I point out comfortingly.

"Is that your idea of being helpful?"

"Yes, and I thought I was doing a good job!"

Jake laughs. "Sure. You were doing wonderfully."

I grin, circles slowing. Finally, I rejoin him and settle down next to him once more.

*

Maggie has become our caretaker of sorts. She takes me to physical therapy, makes sure we are content in the hobby room, and notes our vitals every "night" before we fall asleep. It is obvious that she does not hold any personal affection for us, but it is nice to pretend that she is looking out for us.

That night, before the first Trial, I have no trouble falling asleep. However, I am woken when the door slides open.

Jake enters. I sit up, twisting the bedcovers in my hands. "Yeah?"

"I can't sleep. Did I wake you up?"

"Yes."

"Sorry."

"Don't be."

We stare at each other for a long time. To make us all rest, the Albinos turn off all of the lights except small, faint ones lining the hallways. Jake is barely visible in the doorway, just a large, shadowy shape.

"You usually sleep with these lights on, right?" he asks suddenly. "You haven't asked the Albinos to turn your off?"

"Yeah. It really doesn't bother me. You got the Albinos to turn yours off, right?"

"Nicole and Xavier did, too. Deirdre...has pretty bad nightmares, so she kept them on."

We fall silent again. I wonder why Deirdre didn't tell me about her nightmares.

"If the Trials are us pitted against one another..." Jake starts, dragging me from my slightly betrayed thoughts.

"I'll fight with you."

"Oh." He isn't expecting it to be this easy, I can tell. But even though I know that, if we participate in the Trials this way, it will come down to me killing him, the Voice is pushing for me to accept.

"You know it'll come down to us killing each other," he says, voicing my thoughts uncannily.

"I know. I would rather be the one to kill you than to let one of the others do it."

I can tell Jake is smiling by the tone of his voice. "And me, you."

Again, silence. It is comfortable, the silence in the dark with this strange boy who doesn't fear my insanity.

"I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then," Jake says finally, turning to leave.

"Goodnight," I say simply, rolling back onto my side and staring at the dark shape that is my desk.

This time, I have more trouble falling asleep. The Voice is excited.

But I am not.

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