The next few days crawl by in a sort of haze. Every morning, I wake up, put my uniform on, go to work, read the manuals, and fetch Kovach whatever she needs.

In the bunks, the other trainees don't acknowledge me, watching their shoes or talking to their friends. The absence of Lexi speaks legions, and they throw their pity at my feet in the form of ignoring me.

I eat breakfast alone, disappearing into the shadows of the Working District with all the silence of the epidemic. With a bowl of oatmeal in one hand and a bag hanging over my shoulder, no one gives me two glances. Soldiers are everywhere, though, talking in hushed whispers as they scurry from building to building like loose mice. They must be looking for Lexi.

I scale the wall, closing my eyes as I drop off the other side.

"Hey," I whisper, kneeling down beside a half-asleep Lexi.

She jumps almost a foot, smacking me in the shoulder with an open palm.

"Jesus, Q," she scolds, taking the supplies from me.

"You should be more on guard," I reply, smirking at her, "I shouldn't be able to sneak up on you."

"Get to work," she says, around a mouthful of food, "If Mr. Punctual is late for work, people might suspect him."

I stare blankly at her.

"You," she snaps, "You're Mister Punctual." With a sigh, she shoves me away. "Get, Quinn. I'll be fine."

So, I leave, knowing that if I spend another minute with her, I'll never leave. Lexi's tree bark eyes are comforting, gentle and soft. Everything inside the walls is ice. I would much rather stay with her.

Instead, I deliver her food every morning, hurrying off before the knot in my throat claws its way up and out of my eyes.

At work, I throw myself into studying, researching the virus and everything it entails. The restricted archives are teeming with history records, including medical records about the development of the virus. I make myself look extremely busy at all times.

Kovach drops by regularly, leaning on the door frame with her spider arms crossed over her chest. I ignore her, reading or typing, never even looking up. Eventually, she leaves, leaving the door open just to annoy me.

Three days pass like this. No one questions me about Lexi's disappearance; no one even mentions it. Kovach probably just assumes Lexi ran away and doesn't chase after her. Lexi isn't worth the trouble to her.

"Lieutenant, Kovach wants to see you in her office," River says on Thursday morning as I leave the elevator.

"What for?" I ask, rubbing my chin.

"I didn't ask," Rivers snaps, "And neither should you."

I roll my eyes, nodding. Why waste effort on being polite to either of them? How have they done anything to deserve my manners?

"I'll head that way," I say, shoving past him.

He mumbles something under his breath but doesn't follow me. His office door shuts just as I lift my hand to knock on Kovach's door.

"Come in," she calls from inside. I push open the door, leaving it half open and taking a seat. She raises an eyebrow at me, glancing at the door.

I have no intention of closing it, though.

"You wanted to see me?" I ask, slouching in the chair.

Her ice blue eyes fall on me, and a smirk tugs at her lips.

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