Please Stay

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Alden and Della waited outside, pacing in the glow from Everglen's enormous gates. As soon as the doors swung open, Della wrapped Sophie in a tight hug, stroking her hair and whispering that everything would be okay. Under Sophie's arm, Marty let out a small meow.

"No one saw us," Fitz assured Alden, handing over the black pathfinder.

"Thank you, Fitz. My dear, you might want to let her breathe," he told Della.

A few moments passed before the question plaguing them all was addressed.

"Is that a cat?"

Fitz sighed, "I'm sorry, I tried to make her leave it but she's stubborn and I didn't know h-"

"The cat is fine. There no reason to worry." Alden gave a small smile. "All that matters is that Sophie's safe."

Sophie let out a breath that she didn't even know she was holding.

"So..." She hugged Marty. "What happens now?"

"Della and I are going to personally oversee your family's relocation. Fitz can help you get settled in here while we're gone."

"I guess we're temporarily roommates." She smiled at Fitz. He still hadn't taken his eyes off that cat. Marty wasn't particularly fond of Fitz. 

"Right now we have to get going. Fitz, Elwin's waiting to see Sophie."

Della gave Sophie one more hug before she moved to Alden's side. "Do you want me to take your friend?" Della gestured to Marty. Sophie hesitated before handing Marty off, reminding herself that the Vackers would never do anything to hurt her or her cat.

Sophie barely noticed as Fitz grabbed her hand and leaped her to Elwin.

———

The glass walls of the conservatory bathed everything in soft moonlight, and enormous plants grew in glowing pots around the room.

Sophie laid on a stereotypical hospital bed, only 100x better. Elwin was flashing lights all around her while Fitz just watched.

"Whoa, that is some serious damage. It's not permanent," he smiled. "And it's not your fault. Toxic food, toxic water, toxic air. What chance do your poor innocent cells have?"

Sophie stayed silent as he snapped again, flashing blue and purple and red orbs of light around her body and squinting through the lenses.

You can sit up now," he told her, holding a small silver square in front of her eyes when she did. He frowned.

"I don't know why they're brown." Sophie mumbled, lying for his sake. She wasn't about to tell him a secret organization had altered her genetics in an effort to enhance her physically and mentally.

"I was expecting your eye color to be from the toxins. But your eyes are perfect. They're just . . . brown." He rifled through the satchel slung across his shoulder and removed tiny vials of colored liquids. "Now, try not to let this worry you, but your body needs a major detox. We'll start with these."

Sophie took the bottles and drank them, relishing in the almost instant improvement.

"Good girl," Elwin said as he cleared the empty vials away. He placed a large, clear bottle in front of her. "All of us drink one of these every day, but I want you to drink two for a while, to make up for lost time."

Sophie chugged down numerous more liquids until Elwin stopped giving her more.

He sat next to her on the cot. "Alden told me about your. . . situation. Do you want to talk about it?"

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