The Cell

"Alan, you're acting like I'm going to find him sitting at work, just, "Hey, kiddo, lost track of time."
"Wouldn't that be something…"

"You know Jules Verne?"

"Sure."

"What's he like?"

"Out there… is our destiny!"

"She's the miracle man…"

"What's it like?"

"I've never had to describe it before…"

"He's my Son!"

"Dad!"

"What do we do now Sam…?"

Rattling around, trickling through, all the voice are so close together they melt into one, spinning around his head, pulling his concentration apart, fraying it, fracturing it, de-rezzing the very essence of it. But always he manages to breathe it out and take back control, because her question is always the last thing he hears before he wakes. "What are we going to do now Sam?" He wonders. He thinks. He wakes.

"And I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see. And then, one day..."

"We got out." Sam looked up from the desk, for even the slight difference in the telling rings clear in his ears. His eyes had slowly dropped away from her face and down to the cold metal their hands were lying on. But now he was alert once again.

"Yeah… we got out," he whispered.

"Sam?"

"Yeah?"

"How long do I have to stay in here?" Sam sat up straight in his chair and rubbed his eyes fitfully. His anger, which he had managed to keep under control for the last hour suddenly boiled to the forefront of his thoughts. This was not what he had intended. This was not the way it was supposed to be. Alan had told him the company would want to look at her, study her, but it wasn't supposed to be this way. This was his company. He knew he should have kept her away from them.

"I don't know," he said softly, and breathed slow and deep until he was back under control. He couldn't show his panic, he knew he had to remain strong, for him, and especially for her. He had to remain rational. His father had said she was the key to everything, the miracle. Maybe he had to give the world a little more time to study her. She was impatient to be let out, he could tell, but she was withholding her desire to be free because he had asked her. He had asked her and she trusted him. A twinge of guilt pinched at his side.

"But it won't be long. I'll get you out. I promise." Quorra smiled at him, her wide, crooked smile, so large it almost didn't fit onto her slim face.

"Good," she said softly and looked down to the cold surface her hands were resting upon. "This place reminds me of my world. It's… cold. Not like the sun." Sam knew that she was just learning to judge things based off of feeling. How could you tell when something was hot or cold? You just knew, it was intuition, understanding that could not be imparted on a spoken level. And he was still helping to teach her this feeling. She was a good student.

"No, nothing like the sun," he agreed, and stared long and hard around the tiny, barren cell walls, the single one way mirror placed on the far wall, the glowing light above their heads. This was a cage, and he knew Quorra longed to break free. But she was remaining there because she knew she had to, because he said she had to, because there were rules in this world she just didn't understand. He wanted to see her out and free, like it had been those first few days, the warm light of day lighting her pale skin. In here it was cold, empty, and to her… familiar. And he wanted her as far away from that as possible.

"Sam?"

"Yeah?" His eyelids drooped. She always said his name the same when she asked a question, hesitant, almost like she wasn't sure if she was allowed to ask. He had made sure to make her come to an understanding the first night she had been freed.

"You can ask questions. Anything you want, I'll answer, if I can. It's ok."

"OK." She still asked the same way, even after he had told her. But he didn't mind it, he actually liked the way his plain name sounded when she said it. From her lips, it sounded different, more pure.

"Never mind…"

"No, what is it?" He leaned in closer so he could better hear her soft voice. She curled her legs up under her like a cat, cross legged on the padded chair and gave him a quick smile.

"You're tired. I can ask later."

"No please… ask."

"You need your sleep. Please. Allow me to ask later? …Ok?" He smiled, something about the way she talked always made him smile.

"You getting sleep in here? I mean, is it comfortable? Because I can ask the guards…"

"Everything is perfect Sam."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. Everything is fine. Good night." She smiled expectantly at him, and gave a small nod to the door. He rose and pushed his chair back carefully. Stretching to his full height, he stifled a yawn and looked across the table at her and returned the smile.

"Ok. I'll be…"

"In the other room. I know." She looked to the door and turned her head on its side as she considered him.

"Why don't you go home? I'm sure your sleeping arrangements are much more comfortable there." He grinned again, touched by her selflessness. He knew she hated to be in here alone, especially when she knew she was truly alone and he was elsewhere.

"I am home."

"But you live by the pier."

"The pier is where I live. But people… people are home. And you're… all I've got now." He could tell she had another question to ask about this, but was holding back. He reached a hand out and very softly touched hers lying flat on the table. Her own hand stirred at his touch and she turned her palm up so she could trace the creases in his skin. She always wanted to feel his palms, hers were smooth and unblemished while his were pitted and scarred. She entwined her fingers briefly with his, and then placed her palm flat on the cold metal, almost like she needed to feel it. She was used to the cold. She turned her head to the door again.

"Sleep Sam. I'm not going anywhere." He cleared his throat and then stepped back and felt behind him for the door.

"Ok. Good night… Quorra." He hesitated as he spoke her name, as he always did. Maybe it was how he expected it to sound, foreign and exotic. But it always sounded right after he'd heard it. Just a small miracle. Quorra ran her finger past her sleek hair and copied his hesitation.

"Good night… Sam." She smiled as she said it, always cheerful and then let out her laugh, the unique little giggle that showed off her dazzling white teeth. He paused, unable to step back, but he urged him backwards with another shake of her head. He turned the knob on the handle and stepped out of the ENCOM holding cell and slowly let the door close, leaving her inside alone. She was still smiling as he closed the door. He did not have to see to know that as soon as the barrier swung shut, that smile had faded. He stood alone in the hallway outside and slowly rested his head on the door. Three weeks he had been doing this. There had to be a change. He turned from the door at a noise to the side and he found he was not alone in the hallway.

"Late night Sam. How's our girl doing?" Sam frowned at Alan.

"She's stir crazy, I can tell, even if she won't tell me. We have to get her out of there. Even if it's just a few hours."

"You know the board won't like that."

"To hell with the board! She trusts me and all that's gotten her is a spot in a jail cell smaller than the one she just escaped from. Something has to change Alan." Bradley stepped forward and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Something will. I Promise."

"What are you going to do?"

"Can you wait another twenty four hours?"

"I've been waiting for twenty years for something to happen Alan."

"So you can?"

"Sure. But it'll be harder than you think." Alan looked sideways to the unremarkable door that held the truly remarkable woman behind it. He cleared his throat, hesitant, almost like her.

"She's not… not like anyone I've ever met before," Alan murmured. Sam smiled.

"She's a miracle. I don't think any other word describes her as well."