The tent flap opened as I was folding the note and sliding it into my pocket, and I smiled as Wren peered inside.
“Hey,” I said. “I was just going to look for you. We’re leaving for Austin.”
“Now?” She blinked in surprise as she crawled inside and sat down on the mattress.
“Yeah. Thank you for getting me a spot on the shuttle. That was good thinking.”
A small smile crossed her lips. “You’re welcome.”
“Did you tell Riley why?”
“No. He’s knows something’s up, but it seemed kind of risky. Not that he’s totally on team Micah, but still, what we’re doing wouldn’t sit well with a lot of Reboots.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You don’t think so?”
“We’re sort of taking the humans’ side.”
“We are?” I asked. “Are you okay with going to the cities to help them?”
She pressed her lips together, turning to look at the side of the tent. “If you’re going, I guess I’m going.”
Not exactly the enthusiasm I was hoping for. Annoyance flared in my chest, and I took in a deep breath. “You really don’t want to help them at all?” It came out more judgmental than I’d meant it. Or maybe I did mean it that way.
She brought her knees to her chest with a sigh. “You were right about warning Tony and Desmond. They helped us, so we should return the favor. But no. I don’t have a burning desire to go help people who hate me.”
“They don’t all hate us. You don’t give humans enough credit.” My anger started to seep through and I clenched my fingers into fists. She was willing to write off humans, but she defended Micah?
“And you give them too much! It hasn’t even been a week since a bunch of them tried to kill us both. And your parents—” She stopped suddenly, swallowing.
“No need to remind me about my parents,” I said tightly. “I remember just fine.”
“I know you do.” Her eyes were on the ground. “So I don’t understand why you’re so eager to rush back and help them.”
“And I don’t understand how you can turn your back when we have the opportunity to help. Not just humans, but Reboots, too. You saved everyone in the Austin facility with one other Reboot. One, Wren. Can you imagine what you could do with a hundred?”
She frowned at me and didn’t respond.
“They’re all dying in there and you don’t even care?” It was getting harder to keep my voice steady. “Look at what they did to me. To Ever. We can stop that.”
She looked like I’d slapped her, and I wished I hadn’t mentioned Ever’s name. Maybe I’d done it because she’d brought up my parents.
“It is not my responsibility to save everyone.” She glared at me.
“Whose responsibility is it, then?”
“You’re the one who wants to save everyone so badly! You do it.” She spoke barely above a whisper, but her words were furious.
“I want you to help me. I want you to want to help me.”
She paused, staring at me for so long I began to get uncomfortable. Finally she spoke quietly. “I don’t. I don’t want to help.” She shook her head as she crossed her arms over her chest. “Maybe you need to take a look at who I am, instead of who you wish I were.”
I blinked, taken aback.
“Maybe you don’t like who I actually am.” She shrugged. “I wouldn’t really blame you.”
I reached for her arm but she shook me off, leaning out of my reach. “That’s a terrible thing to say. Of course I like who you are.”
“Why?” She met my eyes. “Why are you distraught about killing one human but you don’t mind that I’ve killed dozens? Why are you okay with my lack of guilt about it? About the fact that I followed orders without question at HARC for five years? I did things I haven’t even told you about, yet you put your foot down within weeks of getting there. Why are those things okay for me but not for you?”
“I . . . I don’t . . .” I fumbled for words, but I didn’t have any.
“Just think about it,” she said softly.
I didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to pull her into my arms and tell her of course I liked her and I didn’t care about any of that.
Did I care about any of that?
She ducked out of the tent and I didn’t try to stop her from going. I sat on the ground, blinking as I tried to process everything she’d just said to me.
I knew Wren had killed more people than I wanted to count. She’d killed some of them right in front of me, to save me, and I hadn’t faulted her for it. It was self-defense. She never wanted to kill anyone.
And neither did I. Yet I had. And if I started judging her for something she had to do, shouldn’t I start judging myself?
“Everything is not black and white, Callum.” Her words to me yesterday suddenly made more sense. I didn’t think I saw as much gray as Wren—not even close—but maybe I could see why she’d likened herself to Micah. Why she’d been confused about how the way she killed was different than the way he did.
Or maybe it wasn’t different. Maybe Wren and Micah and I were all the same. We’d all killed. I bet if a human looked at the three of us they wouldn’t see much of a distinction.
I sucked in a breath at that thought as I shakily crawled out of the tent. I tried not to think about how humans saw Reboots, because sometimes I still felt like a human. But I couldn’t help but think, for a moment, that Wren had a point about them not wanting our help.
I PROBABLY PICKED THE WRONG MOMENT TO ASK CALLUM THOSE questions. In fact, now, as I sat alone in the tent listening to the sounds of dinner being served, I thought I should have kept those questions to myself forever.
But we would have ended up here eventually, me wondering why he liked me when he seemed to despise so many of the things I’d done. Perhaps it was best for him to consider it now.
I swallowed, terrified of the conclusion he would come to.
The sounds of laughter drifted in from the fire pit, and I reluctantly pulled back the flap of the tent. I wanted to avoid people entirely, but I’d missed lunch and couldn’t ignore the rumbling in my stomach.
As I approached the fire pit, I saw two figures standing not far from the food table, gesturing wildly with their hands.
“Just because I think my own father isn’t a bad guy, doesn’t—” Addie yelled, but Kyle cut her off.