Chapter 68: Initiation

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The next morning dawned sunny with few clouds outside, causing Lex to huddle under the covers, throwing the sheet over her face to block out the light. She brought them down a minute later, as the room dimmed, and saw Rolf adjusting the blinds.

"If you want to get a shower, we can go downstairs to see about breakfast afterwards," he said to her as he sat on the edge of the bed.

She couldn't resist reaching out to touch his damp hair where it curled on his neck. "All right," she said, trying not to grumble. "Do you know when we're supposed to leave this morning?"

"We've got a meeting at 10 that we're getting picked up for at 9. That gives us an hour from now," Rolf replied, looking at the clock.

Lex grumbled again as she got out of bed, but kissed Rolf's cheek as she passed him on the way to the bathroom. Twenty-five minutes later, she managed to be showered and dressed and stopped to kiss Rolf properly.

"Let's see what they have for us downstairs," she said with a smile as she took his hand.

Lex studied the lobby as they entered, since she'd only formed a blurry impression of it when they'd arrived the previous evening. The wide windows across the front framed the vision of a busy DC street with cars waiting at a red light and pedestrians hurrying by, beyond a small drive-up where cars could unload. Reception took up the right wall while a portion of the front of the lobby had been given over to couches and coffee tables, but those stopped where the café started on the left side. She and Rolf had turned towards the café when something made Lex turn her head back to look at a young man sitting alone in one corner of a large couch, the one with the best view of the elevators.

The sight made her stop after a moment, especially when the object of her study turned her way. He sat in a cramped position, trying to keep from barking his shins on the support bar underneath the coffee table in front of him. With that and the slight stoop, Lex could see that he stood at least six feet, and he seemed thin in a way that spoke to the kind of deprivation she'd known in her own life. Still, his dark blond hair had been cut short above his collar, and the grey button-down shirt and navy blue pants he wore seemed new and had been well-pressed. The searching look in his jade green eyes seemed unmistakable, and Lex knew she had the same in hers.

In her mind, Lex tried to reconcile the image of the young professional in front of her with the last sight she'd had of her younger brother, when she must have been around twenty-one, with him fifteen, when she'd run into him and Daisy at the mall. His eyes had looked bloodshot and cloudy then, full of anger and suspicion (for reasons she knew all too well), and she'd noted his skinny body dressed in too-long jeans and a worn-out sweatshirt as he stood just behind Daisy, a hair shorter than her sister. Daisy had muttered some excuse a few moments later and fast-walked into the crowds seeking new clothes or candy from the food court.

Lex glanced over at Rolf, who'd stopped and stood studying her with a curious glance, and smiled before she turned, deciding to just take the chance. "Gen?" she asked, stepping closer to the young man on the sofa. "Is that you?"

"Lex?" he asked, standing now and starting to come forward.

She could feel herself beaming as she hurried towards him and hugged him tight. "You've grown since the last time I saw you," she said, her smile taking over her face as she looked up at him.

"Well, I think you may have changed more," he said as he grinned back at her.

Lex stepped back into the more open area of the lobby, suddenly conscious of the other people who'd been sitting at the couches. "I guess Daisy told you where we'd be staying?"

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