I’m not sure how long we sat there, me just silently looking back and forth between Demi and Aden. Probably longer than I wanted to admit. When I could finally speak again, I decide to speak to Demi. She was easier to deal with. “Do you believe this? I mean—it’s insane.”
“I do believe him, Bree. I mean—think about it. If we knew that the war was getting worse, if we knew it was coming to come down to just a handful of us—wouldn’t we try to fix it? Wouldn’t we do anything in our power, even if it meant sacrificing each other or our happiness?”
Demi was right. We’d had that discussion a hundred times before, usually in the dark of the teen dorms, when war was right in front of us and we embraced the melodrama of young women in tough positions. I knew I didn’t like the idea of sacrificing my time with Aden, but if it would save the world, I would have made that decision in the end.
I turned back to Aden. “Do you have proof? Can you prove to me that you’re not the man I married?”
Aden thought for a second, before a light went on behind his eyes. “My scar,” He said quickly, pulling his t-shirt off over his head. I saw the gauze still taped to his side, the gauze I’d avoided because he flinched away from my touch, what I assumed covered a wound left over from, or perhaps caused by the sleeping chamber. But now, he pulled the gauze away, and I could see a dark black line that zig-zagged near the bottom of his rib cage. It looked like someone had taken something very hot, but very precise and burned a line into him.
“What is that?” I asked, intrigued, and a little grossed out at the same time. I leaned in to get a closer look, and I saw Demi step around to look too.
“It’s where they’ve still got me hooked up to the chemicals, the connection that lets me remember what I know about the way things ended up in our time line, and what lets them see what has been changed by my actions.” He gave a little shake of his head, “It’s complicated. Demi, my Demi, tried to explain it to me, but I’m afraid I don’t really understand the science behind it. What I do know is that right now–I’m half way spilt between the worlds I used to be a part of, and the world I’m trying to create here, both half alive and half dead. When I’m on the right path, when I’ve made the changes that put things in the right way–They’ll sever the connection at home, and the dead Aden that was a part of this world will be stuck there, and I’ll be here for good.”
I reached out and put my finger against the line, and Aden flinched away. I curled my fingers in and pressed my fists to my stomach. “I’m sorry.”
“No. No it’s okay. It just–feels weird. Like you’re touching it and not touching it at the same time. Like, the nerves are dead and on overdrive at the same time.” He took my hand and put it to his side.
“It’s cold,” I answered stupidly, “Just along the line, its cold. No body heat there.” I could feel the coolness along the line under my hand, and the warmth of Aden’s hand on the back of mine—and suddenly I felt very light headed about the whole thing.
“I need—I don’t know—A moment? Okay guys? I just need a moment.” Aden nodded, and pulled himself up off the bed. He left the room quickly, but Demi lingered for a second. She opened her mouth, seemed to think better of it, and then followed her brother (not her brother?) out of the room.