Will didn’t feel like the right person for the job, but he was too tired to argue. He went back into the building, taking a moment to get his bearings. The labyrinthine underbelly of the airport was more confusing than anything the public ever saw. Will found the metal stairs outside a propped-open fire door. He took them two at a time, his shoes thumping on the steel. At the top, he saw a closed door with a narrow window. Faith was looking down at him. There was a worried expression on her face.
She stepped back so that Will could open the door.
He stood on the top stair, unable to move. He’d been hoping that the girl was too exhausted to remember him. He’d been praying she was too focused on seeing her mom to stare at him with those same sad eyes he’d seen so many hours ago.
But Abigail Brannon was none of those things. Her eyes were trained down at the floor. She was quiet. Too quiet.
Will looked at Faith.
She explained, “They gave her something to help calm her down.”
Will knelt down on the top stair so that he could look at the girl. He told her, “Your mom’s downstairs waiting for you.”
She didn’t move—didn’t appear to want to see her mother, or anyone else.
Faith asked, “Sweetheart, don’t you want to see your mom?”
Abigail’s small shoulder went up in a shrug. Her eyes were glazed over. Her face remained emotionless. She was dressed in a long T-shirt that fell past her knees. Faith had obviously bought it at the hospital gift shop. The creases were still in the material where it had been folded up in the package. A pair of blue hospital sandals were on her feet. The label was still attached. Her toes didn’t even show. They were meant for a small adult, not a little girl.
Will took Abigail’s shoes out of his pocket. There was a tiny flash of recognition in the girl’s eyes. Wordlessly, she put her hand on Will’s shoulder, kicking off a sandal, lifting her bare foot. He slid on the Hello Kitty shoe. She changed hands, lifted the other foot. He had to use his finger to help her heel slide in. Too much glue had made the back stiff.
He asked, “Ready?”
She didn’t answer. Will finally made himself look her in the eye. He braced himself for that same sad expression, the one that cut straight through to his heart. Instead, he saw wonder.
“I saw you,” she whispered. “I saw you from before.”
Will felt a lump sticking in his throat. This time, he was the one who couldn’t speak. He could only manage a nod.
“I saw you in the bathroom and I saw you on the train.”
Will had to force himself to answer. “Yes,” he agreed. “You did.”
Her eyes started to water. He thought that she was going to cry, but a smile slowly spread across her face. “I knew you would save me,” she told Will. “I saw you seeing me, and I knew that you would save me.”
Will breathed out. He didn’t realize until that moment that he’d been holding his breath.
“I knew it,” Abigail repeated. “I just knew.”
She threw her arms around Will’s shoulders. He gently returned the hug. He could feel her bony elbows and wrists as he lifted Abigail up and carried her down the steps to her mother.