Raven stood alone in the darkness. He widened his pupils and glanced around.
But there was nothing to see.
Nothing but darkness.
“Missy? Missy!” He glanced around, but there was nothing to see and nowhere to go. “Missy!”
He knelt. His hands lay limp in his lap. “Missy. I’m here. I’m here.”
A little girl giggled inside the darkness.
He sat up straight. “Missy?”
“Raven had a little lamb.” the little girl sang tauntingly. “Little lamb. Little lamb. Raven had a little lamb AND HE FREAKING LOST IT!”
“No, I did not lose her. She is here. She is here with me.”
The little girl giggled over and over as another girl sang the taunt, “Raven had a little lamb. Little lamb. Little lamb.”
Robin joined in, “Raven had a little lamb. Little lamb. Little lamb.”
And Ambrose. “Raven had a little lamb. Little lamb. Little lamb.”
Jeff. “Little lamb. Little lamb. Little lamb.”
May Rose Farlington added her voice to the round. “Raven had. Raven had. Raven had.”
“May Rose.” He stood and she appeared.
May Rose Farlington appeared before him, still singing over and over, “Raven had. Raven had. Raven had.” as everyone else sang, “…a little lamb. Little lamb. Little lamb.”
The other voices went silent.
“Where is Missy? Where is she? Is she here?”
She smiled. “Do you really want her to come back? She is demanding. She discomfits you. She pushes you so far out of your comfort zone.”
‘I love her.” It was the simplest of truths and the easiest truth to say.
“Then, find her. Find her, James.”
“Where? Where is she?”
She faded into a outline filled with moonlight and starshine.
“Miss Farlington! Where is she?”
May Rose disappeared.
Raven gasped and opened his eyes to room light and day light. He flailed out of his chair and pretty much flung himself at Missy’s hospital bed. “Missy.” He took her hand. “I am here.” His voice cracked. “I am here. Please. I am here. I am here. I am here. Please hear me, Missy. My lovely, wonderful, fast-talking Missy. I am lost without you. Come back to me.”
Jeff patted his back. “Hey, it’s okay. She’s still alive. She’s still breathing. She’s still with us. It’s okay. She’s okay.”
Raven shook his head.
“They were able to bring her back. That has to mean something good. Right?”
Raven’s mind barely processed the words Jeff said.
Her chest rises and falls.
Her skin color seems to be correct.
“What if it is not her?”
Jeff frowned. “What? What are you talking about? It sure looks like her to me.”
“I am aware of that, sir. Yet, what if someone from The Institute stole her away when neither of us were looking and replaced her with a clone?”
“That’s impossible.” LM said. “The Institute is completely burned down. There’s nothing left. Capernaum is dead. Antioch is dead. Carthage is leaving town. I don’t know where the others are, but I’m sure that one XQ is beneath their concerns right now.” He shrugged, causing his wings to rustle. “If anything, they’d be searching for the other XQ. There’s still a lot of work that they need to do with her, but they would want her back. After all, a fully controlled XQ can be worth a lot of money if offered to the right people.”
Sarah wanted to sit down. She wanted to slouch. She wanted to lie on the floor.
She wanted to do everything other than standing on the dais as the seamstress fussed around her with needles and thread.
When she had agreed to stand in for Missy as Barbara’s bridesmaid, she hadn’t expected it to be this much trouble. She thought it would be a simple matter of picking out a dress, trying it on, loving it to shreds, and going home with it.
No one had told her anything about any alterations.
She yawned emphatically, but the seamstress ignored the message.
“Lower your shoulders, young lady.” the seamstress said. “Stand up straight.”
Sarah reluctantly obeyed. She looked at her reflection and couldn’t help but smile.
The dress no longer looked like it was designed for a great big whale. The seamstress had done a good job in cutting it down to the young girl’s shape. It was a pretty color – almost blue, almost light purple. It was made out of a cool feeling material that was a delight to touch.
It was long.
The seamstress had hacked off a lot of the hem, but it was still so very long. It flared out nicely like a big A. So, Sarah didn’t feel like she was all wrapped up in it.
She wouldn’t have liked that at all.
A double row of small deep purple and dark blue rosettes circled her waistline and the edge of her cap sleeves. Sarah loved that detail the most. They were so small. So pretty. So very girly. If anyone tried to pull them off, she would definitely slap their hands. Maybe she’d go all the way and burn their hands.
It would serve them right.