The Percy before us was a younger version. If I had to guess, features had developed differently. He didn’t wear a lab coat, and his clothes were utilitarian – a shirt with buttons, left half-unbuttoned, and slacks. He was barefoot. Beating the heat as best as he could manage.
Dog had positioned himself so his body was between the small children Gordon had rescued and the worst of the gore and death. Not that it mattered. They were unconscious, by the look of things. Helen had a spring in her step as she approached them.
She would do fine as a babysitter, watching over them in case they roused. It was good that she had something to do while we mulled this over.
As for myself, I walked up to Mary’s side, before dropping down to sit on my heels, bringing myself more to her level. I didn’t touch or prod her.
“Can he talk?” I asked.
“Yes,” Gordon said.
The remainder of the Lambs gathered in a half-circle around Percy.
“Is he dangerous?” Lillian asked.
“Not really,” Gordon said. “Dog had me watch him while breaking the vats, the Percy tried to fight me, I beat him. He tried to run, we broke his legs. Well, that was mostly Dog, but I got us started. The moment Dog turned his back, the Percy crawled for a weapon under the table, we broke one of his arms. I think he got the message.”
“Can I approach?” Lillian asked.
“I frisked him, I don’t see a problem,” Gordon said.
“Don’t have many supplies,” she said. “But we can at least patch him up. We were supposed to have one captive, right?”
She paused to roll her skirt up at the waist, until she could kneel on the bloodstained floor. It didn’t matter. She was already a mess from dealing with Mary. Still, appearances had to be observed.
I looked at Mary, who wasn’t really moving. Her eyes were focused on something I couldn’t see, making little movements as if she was following thoughts more than the current goings-on.
“How many of you are there?” I asked Percy.
He remained silent.
“Yeah, I don’t think you’ll get very far. He’s a tough nut to crack,” Gordon said. He was still leaning against the wall, a bit to the Percy’s right, arms folded. “Pain doesn’t hurt him. He doesn’t care that much about death and dying.”
“No self-preservation?” I asked.
“Not enough to matter,” Gordon said. “He lives for the mission.”
I rose from my crouching position, and began to explore the surroundings. It was a storehouse, and as best as I could judge, there was the big open space we stood in now, with us and the little lab at one and vats lining the path to the door. The space between vats had been kept clear, once. Now it held corpses. Three doors led to side rooms.
“Mary,” I said.
She stirred, twisting to look at me.
I pointed at the open space. “Training yard?”
“Gordon says he doesn’t know how to fight. How do they learn?”
“Percy didn’t know more than what a fencing hobby taught him, and he taught me a lot. He pit us against one another. If we did well, we got praised. If we could teach a form or a technique to the others, we got rewards.”
“And you were good at that,” I said, without looking at Mary.
I picked my way over the bodies until I found one that was roughly halfway intact. I moved the head until it faced me, examining it. I could see the exposed spines, and I could prod the now-bruised, swollen intact flesh to feel them beneath. Running my finger one way, it was smooth. The other way, I could feel the rasp, like brushing against stubble, only sharper.
It was hard not to draw the connection between this and Mauer’s creature.
“The clone of Percy there is conducting the role you were promised you’d have. Looking after the next generation. Training them, organizing them, looking after their growth.”
I did look at Mary. She’d stood and turned around. Her shoulders were drawn together. She replied with only a word, “Yes.”
“You would have done better than this guy did,” I said.
Her eyebrows twitched. Her response wasn’t another rote ‘yes’, this time. I got surprised silence instead.
Lillian was saying something to Gordon, who was dividing his attention between her and my conversation with Mary. Jamie was at the desk in the lab, looking over notes and papers.
“Fourteen vats,” I remarked.
“Academy’s vats,” Helen said.
“You sure?” I asked.
“I’m with Helen on this,” Jamie said, still poring over papers. “They match what we use.”
I frowned, turning to take in the space. “Fourteen clones per generation, one generation every… who knows how long. Every few months?”
“Something like that,” Mary said. “I joined the Lambs a year and some months ago. He would have had to set this up, start it growing, then release them, and train them while starting the next batch.”
“Crap,” I said. I looked around. “Fourteen vats here. He would have had to grow his Percies. Probably a whole batch, with one ghost to act as a bodyguard for each? And he’d used himself because…”
I searched for an explanation and floundered.
“Ego,” Mary said. “Because he needed a source material with a high native intelligence.”
“But it’s still different,” I observed. “You noticed a clear difference that wasn’t just a change in appearance or effective age.”
“Mannerisms, behavior, the way he holds himself… completely different person.”
It was disconcerting to be having this conversation, cajoling Mary in this way, this department, when I’d spent the first few months around her trying to create a distance between her and Percy.
“I don’t like how these numbers are adding up,” I said. “Is anyone else feeling it?”
“It’s fast,” Gordon said. “Very fast, to have clones created, up and running. I mean, they’re mostly nonverbal, aside from the ability to run through scripts.”
“Didn’t run into that,” I said.
“We did,” he said. “There are elements missing, but this is a scary amount of progress for, what, months?”
“Months,” I said. I was starting to see the bigger picture. I moved quickly between the bodies, turning them over, turning heads, looking for hair color, body type, and other traits.
I found what I was looking for, unfortunately. A Percy, malformed, with more of the spines inside him. His chest had only partially developed, spines sticking out, leaving him looking odd at best, horrific at worst.
“Exponential growth,” I said. “One generation every few months, each one with a Percy that can study and learn from his creator, then go off to start a new cell.”
“Less trained than what he did with us,” Mary said, “But with a great deal of inherent ability, thanks to their echolocation.”
“Which seems pretty heavily inspired by Mauer’s creature,” I remarked. I snapped my fingers twice, trying to place it-
“Whiskers,” Jamie supplied.
“Thank you,” I said. “Fail to find and uproot every single cell, and the problem just reasserts itself within the year. All with the real Percy in the background, patching up problems with the system, revising his work, running interference, organizing the organizers. Apparently with the cooperation of others. Mauer included. Our enemies are banding together.”
We took in the implications, sharing looks, Jamie looking up from his papers, Lillian from the Percy, Gordon, Dog and Catcher gathered against the far wall, and the rest of us amid the carnage of the shattered vats.
Gordon broke the silence, “Dog and I were discussing it while we waited for you.”
“Dog can’t talk,” I said.
“He talks well enough. What we’re thinking is this isn’t as bad as it could be.”
“It’s pretty damn bad, Gordon,” I said.
“It has the potential to be. But it’s not there yet. Even if we assume the quick timeline, they’re only just getting started.”
“Only just?” Mary said. “If we look at the scale, here, it could be fifteen cells in fifteen cities.”
“Hell of a lot better than two hundred,” Gordon said.
“He wouldn’t aim for two hundred,” Mary said. “Too much exposure, too hard to communicate, too easy for one to get found out and for everything to crumble. Better to aim for fifty. Something in that neighborhood is still very hard to wipe out, even with the Academy’s coordinated resources.”
Gordon nodded. “That makes sense. Fold the extras into the existing cells for training and reinforcement?”
“Yes. Until a cell reaches a certain size. When they do, have them achieve something. Take out key players, go on the offense,” Mary said.
Gordon had joined the conversation, and it was mostly bouncing between him and Mary now. I was content to let it happen, the two of them going at it, getting into the details and figuring out implications. I turned away, picking my way past glass and blood to access the first of the doors.
Bunk beds, not true bunk beds, but crude ones. Fifteen in one large room, the ‘beds’ simply cloths hooked to posts with metal rings. I peeked, and I climbed up one post to check the upper levels, but I didn’t find much. A twist of dead flowers, a trio of small quartz crystals, a stuffed animal, some marbles.
I hopped down. The others were still talking.
“Food. Biomass,” Lillian was saying.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Bottlenecks,” Gordon said. “Lillian was saying growth wouldn’t be boundless, not forever. There are factors that control how much they can expand. They need weapons-”
He indicated Mary.
“They need the vats, and they need biomass.”
I nodded. I approached the second door and pushed it open. I wrinkled my nose at the smell. I was reminded of compost and dying flesh. The room was unlit, but the shelves on either side were stacked with bottles of varying contents and bags much like the bags that would hold flour. Food, supplies, and probably formula to fill the vats with. In the dead center was the carriage with its four stitched horses. Wires ran down the wooden shelves to the horses, clipped onto the bolts at the horses’ shoulders. If and when there was a storm, they’d receive their power.
Catcher spoke, “When you talk about biomass, are you thinking of the captured children?”
“In part,” Lillian said. “But there would have to be more.”
“There is more,” I said. “Food here.”
“He was making the purchases himself, I think,” Jamie said.
I traced my way through the rest of the building, trying to draw a complete mental picture of how they operated.
“Communication,” Jamie said. “Not a bottleneck, but it’s something they were apparently very focused on. The language the creations devised between themselves, ”
Of course Jamie would think of communication. He’d kept a thumb on the enemy’s line of communication for a while back in Whitney. His secondary focus throughout the war had been on trying to figure out what the enemy was saying and how.
“Makes sense,” Gordon said. “It’s their biggest vulnerability.”
“Any signs of anything?” I asked Jamie. “On that desk over there?”
He shook his head.
“Pens, paper, scrips from purchases of everything from clothes to food to firewood, scripts for the ghosts. Conversation practice, selling themselves, logs on growth, it doesn’t sound like he expected every single one of the clones in this batch to make it.”
“That’s another upside,” Gordon said.
“Always looking on the bright side of life, Gordon?” I asked.
“Trying,” he said.
With that word and the faintly strained tone he’d used, my head turned. I studied him in more depth, this time around.
He hadn’t budged from where he stood. He was hiding that he was in bad shape, and it had nothing to do with what the ghosts had done. I met his eyes, and it was clear he knew I’d realized. His expression was stoic as he stared me down.
I turned away, heading for the third door. Jamie had mentioned firewood, and the clones had needed to eat.
The interior of the third room was indeed a kitchen, with a small personal area for the Percy, complete with room for washing in the corner and an Academy uniform hanging above, dripping into the shallow basket. There was a wood stove, and food sat here and there. The window was open, the curtains billowing, water gathering on the sloped windowsill and dripping outdoors.
I put out a hand. The stove was hot.
Lunchtime had been a bit ago. Gordon and Shipman had had their meal, we’d set out. It was later in the day, but it wasn’t quite suppertime, and why start up the oven so early, without even having food out to cook?
“Gordon,” I said. I had to raise my voice to be heard in the next room.
“When you came in, what was the Percy doing?”
“Not sure. We were a little preoccupied.”
I searched for tools, found a poker with a bend at the tip, and used it to turn the key that unlatched the door of the stove. Warm air and ash billowed out as the heat escaped into the only-slightly-cooler kitchen. They hadn’t shoveled out all of the ash in recent memory.
“The ghosts were waiting for you?” I asked.
“Only a couple. The rest were on our heels.”
They sensed him. They stood their ground, while Percy did what?
Busied himself with the stove?
I stuck the poker into the stove, raking it through the ash and the logs. I saw flakes that suggested paper and proved absolutely nothing, and, after a little bit more digging, moving one log, I hooked onto a thin bit of wood that the log’s weight had squashed.
That piece of wood was connected to another piece of wood, and another, with fine nails glowing pink from heat. The fire had burned most of everything, leaving only a portion of a circular base, a hinge, and fine constructions of wood. Decorative more than anything, with space between.
I pulled it free, closing my eyes and turning my face away, and walked into the other room, holding it out in front of me. I passed Helen and the children.
“…scattered, passing on messages,” Jamie was saying.
“The ghosts we released?” I asked.
“Yeah. They’ll split up, notify other cells. Even if we manage to track one, which we probably can’t, we’d find another cell. What’s that?”
“My counter-theory to your thoughts on how the other cells are getting their intel and warnings,” I told him. I waved it in front of everyone. “Any guesses?”
“Birdcage,” Gordon said, a half-second before Mary and Helen said it simultaneously.
“Birdcage,” Jamie said, late, probably to feel included.
“You guys take all of the fun out of guessing games,” I told them.
“He burned the evidence?” Jamie asked.
“He did,” I said. “I think he burned paper, too, so don’t strain yourself. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s gone.”
Jamie sighed. He straightened from where he’d been leaning over the papers.
“Birdcage… messenger birds?” Gordon asked.
“I imagine so,” I said. “Not a big birdcage, so we’d have to rake the coals to see if there are any more hinges from other cages. Otherwise, it’s just the one. You didn’t happen to see a whole flock of birds take off around the time you approached?”
Gordon and Dog exchanged a glance. They shook their heads in unison.
“Any birds at all?” I asked.
“Maybe,” Gordon said. “It wasn’t really what we were focusing on.”
“Would be handy if you noted the direction,” I said. “What’s that they say about messenger birds? It’s not that they’re clever enough to find their way to their destination every single time…”
“They’re dumb because they only know how to fly one place. Home,” Jamie finished for me.
“Would be nice to know where ‘home’ is,” Mary said. “If Percy’s coordinating, the birds would be flying straight to him.”
“You’re making too many assumptions,” Gordon said. “There are more complex birds. Ones for war, with strange flying patterns, or more complex flight paths for going between multiple destinations. The Academy uses them.”
The Academy uses them, I thought.
I looked at the vats. I thought about the carriages. The uniforms.
I turned my attention to Mary.
“Our puppeteer sure likes co-opting the enemy’s system, doesn’t he?”
“What are you getting at?” she asked me.
“He’s using Academy vats. How did he get them?”
“Are you accusing me?”
“No,” I said. “No, no, no. I’m asking you, because you have the best insight into who Percy is and how he thinks. He’s using Academy uniforms, he’s using a convincing carriage of Academy make. The mice back in the shims thought it was the Academy doing all of this. What if it was? In the chaos and confusion of the war, how many people are really checking and double-checking the books, making sure everything adds up and nothing’s going missing.”
“A mole,” Jamie said.
I held up the burned birdcage. “A little birdy.”
Gordon straightened, stepping away from the wall.
Dog growled at the sudden movement. Gordon paused.
“Gordon?” Mary asked. She’d approached the rest of us, stepping away from the sea of dead clones.
“It’s okay,” he said.
I looked at Catcher, and thought about him telling me about how I needed to put trust in Gordon.
“If he says it’s okay, it’s okay,” I said.
Gordon gave me a smile.
“But-” Mary started.
“It’s not really okay,” Gordon said. “But it’s not getting better and it hasn’t been getting worse while I’ve been sitting around here. Best thing I can do is get to the Academy.”
“What is it?” Lillian asked.
“Only my heart. Dog doesn’t like the sound of how it’s beating, and I gotta say I don’t love how it feels there in my chest. Something stopped working right when Dog and I were running around,” Gordon said. He smiled a little. “No big, but I think I’ll have to ask for my team to stop whatever they’re doing and give me my appointment sooner than later.”
“You think?” I asked, at the same time Mary gave him an incredulous, “No big?”
“Nothing we can do about it here,” he said. “I thought I’d tell you I had to go to the Academy after you figured out where you were going, and I could brief Hayle while you went gallivanting off, but since we’re all going to the Academy anyway, let’s get going?”
I didn’t miss the faintest hint of anxiety in his tone, however well he was working to hide it.
“Let’s,” I said.
Dog was, as it happened, very useful when it came to forging a way through busy streets. People and horses were daunted by him, and a way naturally cleared as the ghost’s carriage took us to the Academy. Catcher rode on top with Mary, the others were in the back with the three kids, and Jamie and I were the designated lookouts, standing on a rail at the back, gripping the rail that ran around the top.
The ghosts were nowhere to be seen. That was, perhaps, the entire point of them, to be evasive and subtle, but Jamie had good eyes, and I could be fairly alert when I focused on the task, and it didn’t make sense that they would be this hard to find.
We passed the Lambsbridge Orphanage and started up the incline to the Academy itself.
I stared at Mary’s bloodstained back. Her clothing was all stiff where the blood had dried on, and Lillian had ripped it at the side to have more room to work with. I could see the side of Mary’s stomach, painted in a mottling of blood.
“What are you thinking?” Jamie murmured.
“A lot of things. It’s how I work.”
“Believe me, I know how you work,” he said. “I know you’re out here because you don’t want to be in there. You’re avoiding Gordon and you’re dodging the subject with indirect answers like that.”
“Oh man, Jamie, no. You sound like me. Don’t do that to yourself.”
He smiled. “For most of the day, you’ve had me working to emulate the other Lambs. You, mostly.”
“We’ve ruined you,” I said.
“Probably. But what are you thinking?”
“You already asked that.”
“Are you afraid to tell me?”
“You don’t have to. I know you care about us. You look after us more than you like to admit. Keep the balance, keep confidences, push us when we need pushing. But when it comes to you… well, I see it as my responsibility to ask you if you’re okay.”
“I’m fine,” I said, breezily.
“You’re fine as long as the rest of us are fine. But we’ve gone without appointments for a stretch longer than normal. Things that were close to breaking down are breaking down, and it’s a little scary to see all at once. You’re struggling, Gordon’s struggling.”
“Mary getting hurt had nothing to do with appointments.”
“But she got hurt,” Jamie said. “And maybe you’re wondering if she would’ve gotten hurt if we were all in top form?”
“Now I am.”
“Sy,” Jamie said. “If something happens, today, tomorrow, in a week, a month, or a year…”
“When,” I corrected. Odd to be the one correcting Jamie. “When, not if.”
“When. Are you going to be okay?”
“I’ve been bracing myself for this for years now. I’ve known the estimated dates since before we had Mary. I’ve mourned and made the most of my time with everyone. I’m fine. Really. But I’m not sure the group is.”
Jamie was quiet. He didn’t look at me, still focused on his job, studying the surroundings, searching for ghosts in daylight.
I swallowed. “Gordon was ready to leave, you know. Back with Fray?”
“Things have changed since then.”
“He’s always been more independent than the rest of us. If something happens, if the group cohesion breaks down, if there are hurt feelings, I really truly believe we might see Gordon break away.”
“You’re not disagreeing with me.”
“I don’t disagree.”
I paused, taking that in.
“Mary,” I said, lowering my voice so I could be sure Mary wouldn’t hear. “With the way things stand now-“
“With Percy. Yeah.”
“Yeah,” I said. Enough said. “And Helen?”
“I just… I have this horrible image in my head about the way things are flowing.”
“Explain? I don’t think about things the way you do.”
“She’s loyal to Ibott. And Ibott is loyal to his aspirations, and Hayle probably told Ibott that if the man wanted an in with the nobility, working on something like Helen would be that in, and now the stars have aligned and Ibott is greedy and…”
“…I see where you’re going. Nothing concrete.”
“Nothing concrete, no.”
“But it’s believable.”
I nodded. I felt both relieved and horrified to speak my fears aloud and have them validated.
“And there’s Lillian,” Jamie said.
“I don’t see her running off, but I- I don’t see her staying?” I said. “I know it doesn’t make sense.”
“I can see both,” Jamie said. “It depends what happens.”
I heaved out another sigh.
“You’ll feel better after an appointment,” he said.
“I’ll feel tons worse after an appointment. Don’t lie to me.”
“And after that, you’ll feel better,” he clarified.
“I hope so.”
The side door opened. The person within waited until we passed another cart going the opposite way, one that held an animal inside, then opened the door. It was Lillian.
She gave me a fleeting smile before working her way along the side of the carriage, stepping up onto the cover above the wheel so she was beside Mary.
Jamie and I were quiet as we watched Lillian poke and prod. She said something to the effect of, “-want to do a last-minute check in case someone grades my work.”
Mary patiently sat through Lillian’s ministrations. She glanced back at us, and rolled her eyes, before a bump in the road made her have to reach out to catch her balance, and grab for Lil’s shoulder, to make sure Lillian didn’t bounce off.
We were at the last leg. The group at the gate obediently got out of the way as Dog approached. They remembered last time. It put a smile on my face.
Lillian hopped down to the step beneath the door, then crossed back to Jamie and I, where we stood on the rear end of the carriage, looking over the top.
“Hi,” I said.
“I wanted to thank you, Jamie. For backing me up. I think I did okay, and I wouldn’t have without you.”
“You know it didn’t happen like that,” Jamie said.
“If you’re talking about me having it in me all along, Jamie, I have to tell you you’re full of horse-“
“No,” I cut her off. “Jamie didn’t help you.”
“You know what happens if they find out he knows this much,” I said, and my tone was grim. “The project gets canceled. Or very heavily revised.”
“I know that. I’m not going to say.”
“Or hint,” I said, “Or thank Jamie, or mention it ever again. Because it didn’t happen. It won’t ever happen again. And if you happen to imagine something like that happening again, in dire circumstances?”
“I’m only imagining it,” she said.
“Good girl,” I said, my voice quiet. “And Catcher, Dog? I know your hearing is good enough to have overheard everything. I’m trusting you two to keep mum.”
There was no reaction from either.
“I didn’t even imagine they were listening in,” Lillian said, quiet.
“They’re good guys,” I said. “Others aren’t. Be careful.”
She nodded. She turned to go back inside the carriage, then stopped and turned back our way. “When Mary was fading out, she was babbling.”
“You had your chance? She said that to you.”
“Uh huh,” I said.
There was a long silence. We passed under the gate.
“Okay then. I feel like I’m always one step behind,” she said.
“Sy told you something before you performed the surgery on Mary,” Jamie said. “You have to be proactive. Step up and find the courage. Pay attention to the sentiment. You’ll always regret what you don’t do more than what you do.”
“Technically Gordon said that.”
“You said it too. It’s good advice. What I’m getting at is, if you want something, fight for it. If you’re falling behind, work hard and catch up. If you want to say something, then say it. But don’t waver.”
“It’s not that easy,” Lillian said.
“Of course not. It’s hard,” Jamie said. “But things worth having are worth the work, don’t you think?”
He gave me a look. I thought about how we’d talked about group cohesion.
“Yeah, Jamie,” Lillian said. “I think I understand what you’re saying. I’m going to think on it.”
“Okay,” he said.
It took her a few seconds to maneuver her way into the carriage without letting the door swing out to hit a bystander on the crowded street.
“She is a bit of a scaredy cat, isn’t she?” Jamie asked.
“I really need an appointment, because I’m not sure I got any of that,” I said.
“She was asking about you and Mary.”
“Uh huh. I got that much.”
“And Lillian was trying to work up the courage to ask you about you and Lillian.”
“Alright,” I said. “I don’t know if it’s really that important. We have bigger things to focus on.”
“You have things you’re focusing on. You’re worried about the group. You’re worried everyone around you will fall apart if and when something happens. But this is important to her,” he said, voice firm. “You can’t string her along forever.”
“I’m not stringing anyone along. I’m not even sure there’s a string,” I said. Images of Mary and the razor wires and knives in that little space under the stairs flew through my mind. “Or there is, I- I’m not sure. I don’t think it’s fair to ask me to be sure one way or the other when I haven’t even figured anything out.”
“Maybe not,” Jamie said. He leaned forward, until his chin rested on the hands that gripped the bar at the top of the carriage. “I trust you, Sy. You’re smart enough to know when you’ve figured it out, and I hope you’re kind enough to let us know as soon as you do.”
“Us?” I asked.
Jamie’s eyebrows went up over his spectacles.
“You said us, not her. Not them. Am I reading too much into it?”
“No,” Jamie said. “Us is right. You’ve been spared the Gordon infatuation, he’s very much into girls, as his fling with Shipman suggests. You’ve been spared the horrors of having Helen be attracted to you.”
He gave me an impish look, smiling, as if expecting me to laugh along with him. My expression was still. I saw the expression fade.
Dead serious, Jamie continued, “But half the Lambs have figured out what Gordon didn’t. Or maybe Gordon did figure it out and that’s why he broke it off with Shipman. We can’t expect any non-Lamb to really connect with us. I don’t think it works. They can’t keep up, they can’t draw close enough. They don’t understand. And with only six of us, it’s a pretty narrow pool to pick from.”
“Jamie, no,” I said. “No.“
He nodded. “I thought as much.”
“I like girls. I am very sure I like girls.”
“I know. I knew, before I even said any of this. But I thought I’d take the same advice I just gave Lillian. Thirdhand as it might be. I can hardly call her a scaredy cat if I’m keeping my own mouth shut.”
He was being so cavalier about it.
I had a lump in my throat.
“They can fix that, you know,” I said.
Jamie’s smile was a sad one. “No need. I’m okay.”
The word was firm enough to shut me up.
The moment the carriage started slowing down, Jamie was gone, hopping off the back of the carriage, to walk on the road below.
The Duke was waiting, with Ibott beside him.
I put it all out of my mind. I couldn’t afford distractions.
I had to focus.
We had an errant little birdy within the Academy. Our mole, letting supplies into the hand of the enemy, taking a hand, partial or in full, of our communications, and co-opting those same communications to serve the enemy. It was galling.
I was legitimately spooked at the thought of what the Duke would be like if he was angry.
I let my gaze fall on Jamie before I hopped down to walk around the other side of the carriage.
You were supposed to be the one I didn’t have to worry about, I thought.