They throw Claire back into the cell; she's covered in lacerations. Adam rushes toward her and pulls her up: doubtless the Company scientists decided to pump her full of toxins; they're keeping her from healing.
"It hurts," Claire says.
"It's okay, they did the same thing to me, just breathe," Adam says.
"I can't," Claire says, and she starts to cry.
"Claire, listen to me. Listen to me," Adam says. He grabs her by the shoulders. "You're healing. You're healing right now, just breathe through it, you'll get past this, I promise."
Claire sobs. Adam lets go of her and stands up. He hurries around the cell, looking for something, anything, sharp enough to cut. There's nothing so Adam takes a breath and bites into his arm.
The bite mark bleeds. Adam kneels down beside her and drips his blood into Claire's wounds. Almost immediately, her wounds seal shut. He presses his thumb into his arm and milks out the blood, dripping it all over her. Everything seals. Claire stops crying and opens her eyes. It's only then that Adam releases the pressure and lets the bite mark heal.
"You alright?" Adam asks. Claire's eyes are full of tears.
"Yeah," Claire says. "Thanks."
He holds out a hand and helps Claire to her feet, leading her to her bunk.
It's been almost a year since Claire's been imprisoned with Adam. Company agents had stormed her home, kidnapping her and killing her family. Adam knows firsthand how ruthless her father was, so he can imagine the lengths to which the Company went to capture his daughter. The first night she was taken, there was a huge commotion outside his cell. Walking toward the window, Adam could see Company agents dragging Claire's body down the hallway. Even then, Adam knew she wasn't a routine bag-and-tag. He could hear her screaming. He quietly closed the blinds and tried to go back to sleep.
They dumped her body on the floor of Adam's cell two hours later. With difficulty, she pushed herself upright, still weak and woozy from whatever drugs they had pushed into her system. Adam knelt on the floor and helped her up. Claire jerked away from him, flinching at his touch.
"Easy, now, easy, easy," Adam said. Claire looked up at him, wild-eyed and afraid.
"I think we're supposed to be roommates," Adam said.
Claire pulled away and sat heavily on the bed. Then she began to cry.
Adam tries to ignore Claire pacing around the room; she circles once, twice, then stops by the window. He doesn't feel like engaging with her today, so he keeps his head down and pretends to read. Claire sighs, loudly. The trauma of the day's experiments seems to have worn off; she taps the window impatiently, looking out into the parking lot.
"I'm so bored," Claire says. "I hate this. I think I'd rather be tortured."
"Why don't you read something?" Adam asks. He doesn't look up from his book. "We have access to a library, you know. Not the greatest selection, but it's still a start."
"There's no in-between," Claire says, ignoring him. "Either they're torturing us, or they're leaving us here to rot. I can't take it."
"Well what would you rather have? Occasional boredom, or torture 24/7?" Adam asks. "That is the term, isn't it? I can never keep up these days..."
"Don't you even care?" Claire asks. "They're treating us like animals, it's not right!"
"What's not right is that I have a sixteen year-old girl as a bloody cell mate," Adam says.
Claire's chin begins to wobble.
"Oh, don't look at me like that, you know I didn't mean it," Adam says.
A tear spills. Then another. "Claire..."
"I annoy you, don't I?" Claire asks. She juts her chin out, daring him to hurt her again. "I invade your space. You wish you were by yourself."
"Of course not," Adam asks. "I'm glad you're my cell mate. Thirty years is far too long to be alone with your thoughts. It's nice having someone to squabble with."
Claire makes a noise, something between a laugh and an outraged hiccup. She blinks fast, wiping her eyes.
"Sorry," Claire says. "I didn't mean to get like that. It's just, I have all this stuff in my head. I can't stop thinking about it."
"It's quite alright," Adam says. He picks up his book. "Just go read something, will you? Maybe if you ask nicely, you can get one of those teeny bopper magazines you girls like so much. Lord knows it'd probably help."
He pretends to read again. A few minutes pass, and Adam lifts his eyes: Claire's lying on her stomach, reading one of Adam's books.
Sometimes, Claire cries herself to sleep. It was really disconcerting at first; after having slept in a solitary cell for thirty years, even hearing the sound of someone else's breathing was somewhat startling. The first time Adam heard her, he naturally assumed she was touching herself in rude places and trying to keep quiet. But then he heard the shuddery breath, and he turned around and opened his eyes.
"Claire? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Claire said.
"You're not fine, you're crying," Adam said. He stood up from the bunk, the mattress springs creaking, slightly. He sat down on Claire's bed and touched her shoulder. Claire cried harder, her muscles tensing under his hand.
"I miss my dad," Claire said. "They shot him and they took mom and Lyle. I don't know what happened to them..."
"Shh," Adam said. Slowly he leaned over and rested his body on Claire's back; he held her until she moved to the side and let him climb in next to her. He held her that way the rest of the night.
It would be the first time of many times.
Sometimes, Adam can't help but to mess with the girl's head a bit. Her earnestness amuses him, and he can't help but take advantage.
"I saw this documentary once," Claire says. "These zookeepers had shipped over this female panda and locked it up with a male panda, and they were hoping they'd mate. The male panda didn't like her, though, so it didn't really work out."
"So you're saying you think The Company wants to mate us, is that it?" Adam says.
"What? No! I wasn't saying that," Claire says.
"You were," Adam says. He tries not to smile. "You were comparing me to that panda. Why else would you bring it up?"
"No! I wasn't talking about that, I didn't mean-"
"Don't worry, I don't want to have sex with you," Adam says. "You're much too young. And even if I did, we're probably related, and incest really isn't my thing. Underaged incest, especially. Unless of course, if you're bored..."
"Ew! No!" Claire says.
Adam tries not to laugh. "Sorry, I couldn't help it," Adam says. Claire smacks him with a pillow.
There are some times when they push him so hard, Adam wishes he could die. Knowing that they are doing the same to Claire in the next room over makes it even worse.
When they're thrown back into the cell, Adam drags himself to where Claire is lying and curls up against her. He can feel her healing underneath his palm.
A shadow falls on Adam's book. He looks up, sees Claire standing behind him.
"I have to use the bathroom," Claire says.
"Good Christ, you nearly gave me a heart attack. From the way you looked I thought you were dying," Adam says.
"I really have to go," Claire says.
"Well go," Adam says.
"I can't just go, I need privacy," Claire says.
"Ah, so you're wondering when I'll be tortured, then," Adam says. "That's a fine thought. The next time I'm strapped down on the table, I'll think about you, using the toilet. One can always take comfort in the mundane, I suppose."
"This isn't funny," Claire says.
"Claire just use the bloody toilet, I won't look. In fact, I'll not say a word until you're finished and sitting back on the bunk. Okay?" Adam says.
Claire digs her toe into the floor.
"What is it?" Adam asks.
"I-" Claire hesitates. Adam pushes himself up on his elbows, watching.
"I'm afraid it might smell," Claire says, in a small voice.
Adam bursts out laughing.
"What? It's not funny!" Claire says.
Adam wheezes. "I'm sorry," Adam says. He can't stop laughing.
"Stop it! See this is why I didn't want to tell you!" Claire says.
"It's so absurd! We get tortured day in and out and you're-" Adam laughs harder-"you're worried that our room will smell."
"Oh my God, I hate you!" Claire says.
"Well don't wait," Adam says. "The longer you keep from going, the harder it'll be, and the longer you'll have to sit. Just do it. I promise I won't say a word. This will be the end of it, I promise."
"This is just so freaking humiliating," Claire says. She yanks a blanket off her bunk and wraps it around her waist. "Turn around."
Sometimes they talk about West. The things she says completely blow his mind.
"He did this really romantic thing, once," Claire says. "He caught me after I jumped off the Hollywood sign, and he said, 'I don't ever want to see you get hurt.' Then he kissed me while we were floating in the air. It was like, the most romantic moment of my life."
"Wait, you jumped off the Hollywood sign?" Adam asks.
"Yeah I jumped off, but anyway-"
"Hold on, why did you jump off?" Adam asks.
"What does it matter, we heal," Claire says.
"Yes but it still hurts," Adam says. "Why would you do that? Were you experimenting? Because I've done that as well. Wanted to test my limits, so to speak. Although now I'm quite fine with my limits, it's the bloody Company that keeps pushing."
"Well, West thought it'd be a good idea-"
"Wait, your boyfriend told you to jump off?" Adam says.
"What's the big deal? He caught me," Claire says.
"And you think that's romantic?" Adam says.
"What is your problem. You're acting like my dad," Claire says.
"Claire, this boy told you to jump off a building so that he could catch you and tell you he never wanted to see you get hurt. That doesn't strike you as a touch manipulative?" Adam asks. "I mean, what if I asked you to run out in front of my car? Would you think it'd be romantic if I stepped on the brakes?"
"God, you're worse than Lyle," Claire says. She rolls over in her bunk and stares at the wall. "I'm not talking about this anymore."
"Fine," Adam says. "Sleep well, then."
Claire rolls her eyes and pulls the blanket over her head.
"I can't believe you had ten wives," Claire says.
Adam's mouth quirks. "You say that as if I were with them at the same time."
"Well of course, you're a teenaged girl and your head's muddled with all that True Love nonsense. You're wondering if I loved them all."
Claire's face reddens. She sits on her hands. "Yeah," Claire says. "I guess I am." Adam nods, slowly.
"I did," Adam says. "Some more than others. But I tried not to get too attached. Those things are fleeting, you know."
Claire falls silent. She picks up a hairbrush and taps it on the desk.
"Did you ever get lonely?" Claire asks.
Adam considers. "Sometimes," Adam says. "But not in my day-to-day life. Then it was easy. You just plug along, like you'd normally do. But then you start noticing the changes, the wrinkles on everyone else's face, and you know it's time to move on. That's when it gets to be the worst."
Claire nods. She fidgets with her hands.
"Do you think Peter will live as long as we do?" Claire asks. Adam shakes his head.
"I haven't the faintest idea," Adam says. "From what you say, he's not like us. He probably has to think about it to get it to work. What we have is in our bones. It's like breathing. I can't say if it's the same for him."
The clock ticks; the room is cold. Claire sits beside him, rubbing her arms.
"I hope he does," Claire says. And it breaks his heart.
"Claire," Adam says. "There's something I have to tell you."
Claire knits her brow, biting her lip. "What?" Claire asks. She wanders over next to him, braiding her hair. "You're not gonna tell me you love me or something, are you? Because that would be really gross, not to mention really lame."
"No, it's not that. Sit down," Adam says, and he avoids Claire's eyes. She's so young, he thinks. Too young.
Adam shifts in his seat, waits until Claire sits beside him.
"They're planning on killing me tomorrow," Adam says.
Claire stares at him. "What?" Claire says.
"I overheard them talking. They thought I was unconscious, but I just had my eyes closed," Adam says. "They said they had you, now, there wasn't any sense in keeping me around much longer. You're younger and your abilities are more potent; they said it was a waste of company resources to keep me alive."
"No!" Claire says. "No, they can't do this, you're the only one I've got, they can't do this, they can't-"
Claire starts to sob.
"Listen," Adam says. He grabs Claire by the shoulders, shakes her hard. "Listen."
Claire looks up. Her face is blotchy; tears are smeared on her cheeks.
"I'm not afraid," Adam says. "I have lived my life a hundred times over. I'm ready for this. I just want to make sure you'll be okay."
Claire takes in a shuddery breath. "No," Claire says. "I won't. I can't do this by myself. I don't want to be alone."
Adam has a vision of Claire three hundred years from now, outside of time and wandering the earth. He brushes back a tear with his thumb, gently strokes her hair.
"You'll be fine," Adam says. "I promise." But Claire cries even harder.
Adam holds her while she cries herself to sleep. He lets her bury her face into his chest and cling to him, like she has countless nights before. They've taken her mother, they've taken her dad. They've taken her youth, and now they're taking him. Adam kisses her brow and holds her tight: God knows how long it will be before anyone else holds her again...
There's a moment, his mind skidding to a full stop, when he grabs her by the chin and breaks her neck. He can feel that elusive shimmer, her body putting itself back together, when he shoves her skull into the shard of bone.
Her body quiets; she falls limp. Now there's nothing but the hush of midnight, the shuddery half-sound of his breath and the warmth behind his eyes. A tear slips, and Adam wipes his eyes. He gently lays her back on the pillow, arranging her arms as if she's just asleep. If Adam knows one thing, it's that the Company agents are largely oblivious, and so long as there's no outward signs of trauma, they won't even notice. He wouldn't be able to forgive himself if they somehow brought her back.
The clock ticks. The room is cold. Slowly, Adam moves to the window and stares out into the parking lot, the soft yellow lights winking in the dark.
Soon they'll both be home.