Time in the room passes slowly. We all fall into a sleepy silence, listening to the ticking of the clock and the whir of the cell separator.

Lexi falls asleep, snoring with her mouth open.

Jay wakes up, wiping her eyes with her hands. Isaac holds a finger to his lips when she begins to talk, helping her into a sitting position. He whispers things to her that I can't hear as Patel takes her IV out.

"Are you okay?" she asks me in a whisper. I nod, stroking Lexi's hair some more.

Jay takes a deep breath and grabs Isaac's shoulder. He picks her up like she's made of paper, carrying her across the room to a chair beside me. He sits beside her, pulling a piece of paper and a pencil out of his pocket. As she rests her head on his shoulder, he draws a picture of her, surrounded by wires and darkness.

As we sit there, I begin to feel the effects of the virus. Every breath requires effort; my ribs burn as I struggle to straighten up and breathe. The floor sways under me, regardless of the fact that I'm sitting still. My head feels light, like I'm on the water. I'm hot, beading sweat, but my skin is cold to the touch.


Isaac's voice forces me to open my eyes, but he's blurry in front of me.

"How long has it been?" I ask, voice dry and cracking.

"Three hours," Isaac says, "You don't look good at all. How're you feeling?"

I look down at the girl sleeping in my lap. Her cheeks are slightly pink; drool pools up on my pants under her mouth. I can't see the freckles on her cheeks anymore, even if I tried.

"It's the beginning of the end," I whisper, taking a shaky, painful breath.

My shuddering wakes Lexi up. She rubs her face, eyes not yet open, stretching her fingers out as she does so.

"Lexi," I say, tapping her nose with a stiff finger. She looks at me with one eye open. "Can you promise me something?"

She sits up, squinting at me.

"Yeah, sure," she mumbles, popping her neck.

"Will you take care of Elliot like you take care of me?" I ask, knitting my hands together in my lap. The action sends pain up my arms, but the stiffness in my joints scares me. So, I grit my teeth and do it anyway.

I look up at Lexi, who is chewing on her bottom lip. Tears well up in her eyes again, and her chin trembles.

"I want you to tell him how much I wanted a little brother," I continue, looking away, "Tell him everything about me, good and bad. I want him to know me for who I really was."

"So you want me to tell him how spineless you are?" Lexi asks, strangled.

I smile.

"Yes. Tell him I was an absolute coward but that I was smart. I want him to grow up fearless and strong. The opposite of me."

Lexi grabs my hand, tangling her fingers in mine. She gives me a squeeze, and I wince.

"I promise, Q," she says, "That I will take care of him, just like I've taken care of  you. No harm will ever come to him while I'm around."

I nod, swallowing the knot that I feel rising up in my throat.

With that taken care of, there's only one thing left to do before I let go.

"I want to go downstairs," I say, a little louder.

Jay sits up, looking over at me. Isaac puts his pencil down, nodding.

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