"Well, Lexi heard you scream and panicked. She shoved Kovach into the Repository, carrying you out and slamming the door. Lexi carried you back to Patel, who gave you a bunch of medicine and basically crossed his fingers."

"Did Kovach die?"

"Yes. When Rivers sorted through the bodies a few days ago, hers was found among them."

I breathe a sigh of relief. That suffering wasn't for nothing.

"And the vaccine?" I ask, resting my head against the soft pillow.

"Patel has been producing it constantly. He has enough for Compound 5 prepared and is working on enough for Compound 3. Now that he has the formula stabilized, he says it's easy work."

"He has been distracted lately, though," Isaac says. Jay shoots him a look.

"Distracted? Why?"

Jay punches Isaac in the arm, sighing.

"We received word from Compound 1," she says, slowly, "They want us to stay as far away from them as possible. Ashford made his warning loud and clear. They have something that belongs to Patel and are threatening him with it."

I sit back up, narrowing my eyes at them.

"What does Ashford have of Dr. Patel's?"

"Look," Isaac says gently, "It's nothing you need to worry about. Jay and I plan to take care of it. You just need to get better."

I glare at him.

"Tell me, Isaac. I'll find out somehow eventually," I say.

"They have Patel's son, Sakir," Jay says, "Sakir is one of the last original immunes. We met him when we met Dr. Patel. He stayed behind to research the last doctor, Dr. Julien, and try to find some information on her children. According to the videos in Compound 4, there were six original immunes. Me, my mom, Sakir, his mom, and two others. We have to assume they are Julien's children, but we can't find any additional information about them. it's as if they never existed."

"Now that we have the vaccine, does it really matter if we find the other two?" I ask.

"Not really, but we do need to find Sakir," Jay says, "And we do need to somehow give the vaccine to the residents of Compound 1. It's still a secret, but eventually, we will make it public, and I have a feeling Ashford won't like that at all."

I run a hand through my hair, closing my eyes for a minute.

I didn't sign up for a cross-country mission. I just wanted to save my compound from Kovach. My job's done, right?

"Why haven't you made the vaccine public yet?" I ask, opening my eyes, "What are you waiting for? The entire compound could be safe by now."

Jay smiles.

"We were waiting on you, President."

My body temperature drops, and the heart rate monitor beside me goes crazy.

"What do you mean 'President'?" I ask, breathing quickly.

"With Kovach dead, you're next in line. Rivers has been filling in as need be, but he refuses to make a call like that. Says it's your job."

Didn't Kovach have any children to succeed her? Why did I accept this job in the first place? I don't want to be President! I wanted to make enough money to provide for my parents and Elliot. I'm sixteen! I can't run an entire compound.

Jay squeezes my hand, and I look up at her.

"I know it's a lot to process," she says, and I snort, "But if anything, you've proved yourself more than worthy of that title. You were willing to die to save these people. Whether or not you decide to reveal the truth to them is your decision. In my book, you're the perfect person for the job. This is a new era, Quinn. Everything is changing."

I swallow hard, nodding.

I couldn't say no if I tried. The same itch that told me to think about someone other than myself in the water tells me now that I have no choice.

I have to fill the gaps that Kovach widened. I have to be the change that I want to see.

"Make the vaccine public," I say, sinking into the pillow. My eyes droop from fatigue. "Give it to everyone, women and children first. When I'm able, I'll send a message out to the other two compounds to let them know about it."

Jay jumps off the bed, smiling widely at me.

"Yes, sir," she says, saluting me and motioning for Isaac to follow. He rolls his eyes at her, giving me one last smile before joining her at the door.

When it closes behind them, I glance down at Lexi.

Did I really tell her I love her? What was I thinking? What was it she had said back to me?

"I love you, too, idiot."

My stomach does flips, and I look at the monitor to watch the line pulsate up and down rapidly.

Is that really what matters right now?

I tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, running my index finger down the bridge of her nose. How in the world had it taken me so long to realize? This girl is my undoing.

She tenses up at my touch, scrunching her nose under my finger as she stretches her arms out. When her eyes open, they blink several times before registering who I am.

"You're awake," she says, breathless. I smile and nod, dropping my hand to the bed.

"I'm awake."

The sound that comes out of her mouth could be described as nothing but sheer bliss. She throws herself across the bed, wrapping her arms around me, laying her body across mine. Her tears wet my neck, but I sense these aren't sad tears anymore.

Hugging her back proves more difficult than breathing, but I wrap my good arm around her anyway, pressing her into me.

"I love you, Lexi," I whisper into her hair, "And I'll never stop saying it."

"Please, don't," she says, and my heart melts into my toes.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," I repeat, countless times until she erupts into childish laughter. I've never heard anything so magical, and when she looks up at me, the tears that wet her eyes makes them sparkle.

"I've turned you into a real girl, Pinocchio," I say, and she scowls at me. She sits up, punching me in the upper arm. "There you are, Lexi. I thought you were gone forever."

She continues to glare, crawling up in the bed to lay beside me. I make room for her under my arm, and she rests with her cheek against my chest. Within moments, she's asleep again. I've never understood how she can go from a hundred to zero so fast.

There's a million questions running through my head, staring with "What do I do now?" and ending with "Does this mean I have a girlfriend finally?" I take a deep breath, settling into the pillow.

Right now, there's nothing to do but rest and enjoy the weight of Lexi's head making the pain worse. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make just to watch her sleep, thankful her mouth is closed to quiet her snoring.

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