The guard leaves us inside the wall with his partner, leaving to make a quick phone call. I can't hear what he's saying, only the whispery tone of his speech. The other guard watches us with a very serious look, eyes never leaving Lexi.

"Alright, let's go," the first guard calls, waving us forward.

"Should I stay here?" the second asks.

"Yeah, man. We can't leave the gate unattended. I'll just drop them off and come right back."

Lexi has gone white, following behind me with her eyes on the ground. I want to grab her hand, squeeze it and assure her that everything will be fine.

Yet, I can't make that promise.

I have no idea what's about to happen.

The streets of the Working District are dead, mists of silence spreading over the deserted buildings and still machinery. The doors are closed, curtains pulled closed tight. The lights overhead cast bright white circles down on us. The moon is full above us, washing the remaining color out of my surroundings. I don't think I've ever seen the streets so empty.

We approach the Headquarters, where the electronic doors have been propped open for us. The guard waves us on.

"You'll have to go on your own from here," he says, pulling the door shut as we walk in, "I was told to leave you at the door. Upstairs. Straight to Kovach."

I nod, taking Lexi by the shoulder and leading her towards the single silver elevator.

"What's she going to do to me?" Lexi asks, voice echoing in the hollow space. Her voice shakes, and in her reflection in the silver, tears brim her eyes.

"I don't know, Lex," I whisper, looking away.

"Riley- I- I can't get reassigned. Mom- she'll- I-"

She begins to hyperventilate, tears streaming down her cheeks. I wrap both arms around her, and we fall into the wall. She doesn't hug me back but leans her head limply on my shoulder.

"I'll do everything I can to protect you, A," I say into her hair, squeezing her.

"How?" she manages to say, drool wetting my shoulder.

I don't answer, because I don't know what to say.

The doors slide open, the tenth floor like an open coffin waiting for us.

I hold Lexi's hand as we walk out, towards the looming door to room number six. The door itself is cracked open, a single shard to yellow light cutting into the dim hallway. I knock once, and the light is broken as the door shuts on impact.

"Come in, Quinn," Kovach says, her voice tense. I grab the knob and pull the door open, shedding more light on us.

Kovach sits behind her desk, all but glaring at the two of us. She wears a pair of pajama pants and a jacket; her hair is in a messy ponytail. Even though her outfit looks relaxed, the way she leans forward on her desk, propped up on her elbows is pure rage. Her ice blue eyes cut us into pieces as I lead Lexi to one of the leather seats. Her body sags as she sits down, blinking back the tears as she watches Kovach who has her eyes trained on me.

I take the seat beside Lexi, staring back at Kovach. I refuse to back down this time. Lexi will not be reassigned.

We stare at each other for what seems like an eon. She swallows several times, blinking back the liquid that brims over her lashes and clenching her jaw repeatedly. I blink when she blinks, squeezing the arms of the chairs until my knuckles turn white.

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