Twelve - Ira

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Jaysen laid his hand on his bed, grinning. "I got it," he said, turning his head towards where he thought he remembered Celestia to be. Close, but not quite.

"He got it," I confirmed flatly. I missed the long, effortless chats with Celestia in the dark. I felt no affinity for Jaysen, yet Celestia had gravitated towards him. Applause erupted from her corner, and I predicted her expression before I saw it: pride and happiness. I forced myself to show some sense of enthusiasm. "Well done, Jaysen."

"Are you feeling a bit better now?" Celestia asked, making me tense. I did not like the rosy picture of this place that she was painting. It had always been a tug of war, wanting her to see the island and its lab for what they really were, yet also being careful not to damage her fragile soul. "In any case, the doctors will probably come up with a solution for you soon. There's Doctor Nita, and Doctor Stuart. They're—"

"Cut the crap," I snapped impatiently. "They're only going to make you into their dream pet."

Jaysen looked alarmed. "What do you mean?" he said, his face frozen.

Then the corridor lights cut, soon after there was a knock on our door. Who knocks on the door? It must have been a show for Jaysen. "Celestia," a voice that I barely recognized drifted into the room. "Shall we go for a swim?"

"Okay, Doctor Nita." It took all the muscles in my body to restrain me from making a face. My best and only friend left in the world was really becoming a scientist's pet. "See you later, Jaysen." She paused, prolonging the tension that was already between us. "Ira."

Celestia followed Nita out of the room, and like any other time, a small voice at the back of my mind told me that I'd never see her again. From when she had first screamed about her skin until now, I had always worried that she wouldn't make it. Her strength to cope came from believing the doctors, and that was the most dangerous part.

"So," I'd forgotten about Jaysen, "what did you mean?"

I folded my arms across my chest. "I meant," I said slowly, "that your body is a specimen here. Be careful of what they do to you. I don't know where the graveyard is."

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I knew that our visitor was Stuart before he even came in the door. There was something about the way he opened it - carefully, like he was afraid of stepping on my pride. He shut the door and switched the corridor lights on again. I could see that he'd added gel to his hair.

"Who's there?" Jaysen shot up from his bed. I thought he'd been asleep. The threat of a fate worse than death was certainly not thrilling enough for this guy.

Stuart gracefully unfolded the chair that he'd been carrying and sat down before us. "Don't worry, Jaysen. It's Doctor Stuart Neville, remember me?"

"Oh, Stewie?" Jaysen asked and I almost laughed out loud.

"I don't know who that is," Stuart said, raising an eyebrow. His voice made it hard to discern whether or not he was joking, but I laughed anyway.

"Come on," Jaysen sighed, "Everyone's so depressing here." 

I silently agreed.

"They just choose to see it that way," Stuart said from his chair, "Jay." He didn't have the voice recorder with him today. Did he find out that Doctor A knew that he wasn't keeping a record? It was strange that he was seeing both Jaysen and me at the same time. Jaysen made a face in the darkness at his new nickname. "Are you even here, Ira?" Stuart didn't hesitate to ask. I grumbled something resembling a yes. He must not have heard me laughing at the whole Stewie thing.

"So what's up?" Jaysen asked. I wondered if he could be going to his first "checkup" and getting a real taste of the place. He might come back with a more fitting attitude.

"Jaysen, remember that girl you saved?" Stuart began slowly, like he was speaking to a class of children. "She told me that she wanted to hear from you."

Jaysen paused to think, although recognition was clear in his expression. "Doctor Valentina? Where is she?"

"Not... here." Stuart cleared his throat, leaning forward to me. "Ira, I was hoping you could help."

"How could I ever do that?" I said, grinning in the dark. I could use this to my advantage somehow.

Stuart smiled, how naive he was. "I was thinking Jaysen could dictate a letter for you to write down, and I could pass it on to Valentina."

"Who is Valentina?" I asked.

"How lame," Jaysen weighed in at the same time.

"Don't worry about it," Stuart said, looking sour. "Do you want to do it, Jaysen?"

Jaysen shrugged before realizing that he was not visible. "Sure," but no more. 

"Great," Stuart replied flatly. He got up and put the chair back in its spot close to the door. Paused. Turned around, and looked at me. "Ira, can you come here?"

I gingerly slid off the bed, unsure of what would happen next. With one hand on the door handle, Stuart switched the corridor lights off. I could hear him open the door, and feel his arm guiding me outside. Cleaner, air-conditioned air hit my skin, and my heart raced. "What is it?"

Stuart shut the door again before he spoke. "I'm sorry about Doctor A," he whispered. "She doesn't know what she's doing."

"Do any of you?" I sneered in the quietest voice possible. If not for where we were, I would be expecting more than an apology for this occasion.

"I wanted to tell you something," he continued. My eyes were beginning to adjust to the low light coming from the cracks of door frames. "After those tests that Doctor A did on you, we did manage to come up a possible way to solve your pupil dilation. Listen to me. I think you should give it a chance. I know how much it hurts you to be stuck in that room all the time, afraid of what's outside—"

"Who said that I was?" I retorted, but I was already thinking about a future where I could walk in daylight without writhing in pain. That depended on whether I could get out of here, of course.

"Celestia," the name escaped his mouth. "She's as worried about you as you are about her." There was a short pause. "I think you could do better than total darkness, Ira."

I swallowed, some of my pride going down to my stomach. "I guess I could," I said, "as long as Doctor A isn't supervising."

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