What if Commander Jameson took them out to hide something from me?
No, no. I sit back and stare at the first photo again. Why would Commander Jameson want to hide the details of my brother’s murder from me? She loves her soldiers. She was outraged by Metias’s death—she even arranged for his funeral. She wanted him on her patrol. She was the one who made him captain.
But I doubt the crime scene photographer was so rushed that he would take such a bad set of photos.
I think about it from several angles, but keep coming to the same conclusion. This report is incomplete. I run a hand through my hair in frustration. I don’t understand it.
Suddenly I look closer at the knife in the photo. It’s grainy, and details are almost impossible to make out, but something triggers an old memory that makes my stomach churn. The blood on the knife’s hilt is dark, but there’s another mark there too, something darker than the blood. At first I think it’s a part of the faint pattern on the knife, but these marks are on top of the blood. They look black, thick and textured. I try to remember what the knife looked like on the night it happened, when I had a chance to look at it myself.
These black marks look like rifle grease. Almost like the streak of grease that was on Thomas’s forehead when I first saw him that night.
WHEN JUNE VISITS ME AGAIN THE NEXT MORNING, even she looks shocked—if just for a second—at my figure, slumped against one wall of my cell. I tilt my head in her direction. She hesitates at the sight of me but quickly regains her composure.
“I assume you made someone angry,” she says, then snaps her fingers at the soldiers. “Everyone out. I want a private word with the prisoner.” She nods up at the security cameras positioned in each corner. “And cut those too.”
The soldier in charge salutes. “Yes, ma’am.” As several of them hurry to click off the cameras, I see her take out two knives sheathed at her belt. Somehow I must’ve made her angry too. A laugh bubbles out of my throat and turns into a coughing fit. Well, I guess we should just get it all out of the way.
When the soldiers leave and the door slams shut behind June, she walks over and crouches beside me. I brace myself for the feeling of a blade against my skin.
She hasn’t moved. Instead, she puts her knives back by her belt and pulls out a canteen of water. Just a display for the soldiers, I guess. She splashes some of the cool liquid on my face. I flinch, but then I open my mouth to catch some of it. Water never tasted so good.
June squirts some water directly into my mouth, then puts the canteen away. “Your face looks awful.” There’s concern—and something else—in her expression. “Who did this to you?”
“Nice of you to ask.” I’m amazed she even cares. “You can thank your captain friend for this.”
“That’s the guy. I don’t think he’s very happy that I got a kiss from you and he hasn’t. So he interrogated me about the Patriots. Apparently Kaede’s a Patriot. Small world, huh?”
Anger flashes across June’s face. “He never mentioned this to me. Last night he—well, I’ll take it up with Commander Jameson.”
“Thanks.” I blink water out of my eyes. “I was wondering when you’d come.” I hesitate for a second. “Do you know anything about Tess yet? If she’s alive?”
June looks down. “Sorry,” she replies. “I have no way of knowing where she is. She should be safe, as long as she stays low. I haven’t mentioned her to anyone. She hasn’t appeared in any of the recent arrests . . . or deaths.”
I’m frustrated by the lack of news, but relieved at the same time. “How are my brothers?”
June tightens her lips. “I have no access to Eden, although I’m sure he’s still alive. John is doing as well as can be expected.” When she looks up again, I see confusion and sadness in her eyes. “I’m sorry you had to deal with Thomas yesterday.”
“Thanks, I guess,” I whisper. “Is there any particular reason why you’re nicer than usual today?”
I don’t expect June to take this question seriously, but she does. She stares at me, and then seats herself in front of me with her legs folded underneath her. She seems different today. Subdued, maybe, even sad. Uncertain. An expression I’ve never seen before, even when I first met her on the streets. “Something bothering you?”
June stays silent for a long while, with her eyes cast down. Finally, she looks at me. She’s searching for something, I realize. Is she trying to find a way to trust me? “I studied my brother’s crime scene report again last night.” Her voice trickles to a whisper so that I have to lean forward to hear her.
“And?” I say.
June’s eyes search mine. She hesitates again. “Day, can you say, honestly and truly . . . that you didn’t kill Metias?”
She must have found something. She wants a confession. The night at the hospital flashes through my thoughts—my disguise, Metias watching me as I entered the hospital, the young doctor I’d held hostage, the bullets bouncing off the refrigerators. My long fall to the ground. Then the face-off with Metias, the way I’d thrown my knife at him. I’d seen it hit his shoulder, so far from his chest that it couldn’t possibly have killed him. I hold June’s gaze with my own.
“I did not kill your brother.” I reach out to touch her hand and wince at the pain that shoots up my arm. “I don’t know who did. I’m sorry for injuring him at all—but I had to save my own life. I wish I’d had more time to think it through.”