It was the first time I heard him say Daedalus. The word sounded strange on his lips.
“Believing in that led to nothing but misery and eventually madness when the hope faded.” His lips tipped up at the corners. “Daedalus wanted me to recreate what I had with Beth. They wanted me to create more like her. To help better mankind and all that BS, and when it didn’t work, things…things changed.”
I shifted. “How did they change?”
The line of his jaw tightened. “At first, they wouldn’t let me see Beth—my punishment for failing when it seemed all too easy to them. They didn’t get I didn’t know how I healed and changed her. They’d bring these dying humans to me and I tried, Katy, I really tried. They just died no matter what I did.”
Nausea welled up inside me, and I wished I knew what to say, but it seemed like this was one of those moments when saying nothing meant everything.
“Then they started bringing in healthy humans and doing things to them—hurting them—and I healed them. Some…some of them got better. At least they did for a little while, and it was like whatever wounds were inflicted on them came back with a vengeance. Others…others destabilized.”
Dawson’s hands opened and closed on his thighs. “They’d develop some of our abilities, but something…something went wrong. This one girl—she wasn’t much older than us and she was nice, very nice. They gave her some kind of pill and she was dying. I healed her. I really wanted to heal her, because she was so scared.” Emerald eyes met mine. “And we thought it worked. She got sick like Beth was when they first brought us in. And then she could move just as fast as us. About a day after the sickness faded, she ran into a wall.”
I frowned. “How is that so bad?”
His gaze slipped away. “We can move faster than bullets, Katy. She crashed into the wall. It was like hitting it at supersonic speed.”
“Oh my God…”
“And it was like she couldn’t stop herself. Sometimes I wonder if she did it on purpose. There were many, many more after her. Humans who died with my hands on them. Humans who died after I healed them. Humans who lived with no mutations but were never seen again.” He looked down. “There’s so much blood on my hands.”
“No.” I shook my head vigorously. “None of that was your fault.”
“It wasn’t?” Anger deepened his voice. “I have this ability to heal, but I couldn’t get it right.”
“But you had to want to heal them—like on a cellular level. You were being forced to do it.”
“It doesn’t change that so many people died.” He sat forward again, antsy. “There was a period of time that I believed I deserved what they were doing to me, but never…never to Beth. She didn’t deserve that.”
“You didn’t either, Dawson.”
He stared at me a moment, then looked away. “They withheld Beth, then food, then water, and when that still didn’t work, they got creative.” He let out a long breath. “I guess they did the same to Beth, but I really didn’t know. All I saw was what they did in front of me.”
My stomach sank to the couch cushion. I had a really bad feeling about this.
“They’d hurt her just so I could heal her, and they could study the process.” Dawson’s jaw worked. “Each time I felt the worst kind of fear. What if it didn’t work? What if I failed Beth? I’d…” He moved his neck, as if working out a kink.
He’d never be the same. Tears climbed up my throat again. I wanted to cry for him, for Beth, but most of all, for the people they once were but never would be again.
After that, Dawson shut down. He talked about anything—weather, football, the Smurfs—but nothing about Daedalus or what they did to him and Beth. Part of me was grateful. I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle knowing, as selfish as that sounded.
But the bad part was that once we stopped talking about serious stuff, my brain ran right back to where Daemon was and what he was doing. When it neared midnight and he still hadn’t come home, I couldn’t sit there any longer.
I couldn’t sit anywhere.
Saying good night, I made the quick and chilly trek across the lawn. The first thing I did was check my cell. There was a text waiting and my heart stuttered.
Srry abt tnght. Tlk tmrw.
It had come in about an hour ago. Meaning he was still with Ash—er, Andrew, Dee, and Ash.
I glanced at the clock, like that would somehow change the time. My heart was pounding in my chest, as though I’d run from next door. Looking down at my cell, I fought the urge to throw it against the wall. I knew I was being ridiculous. Daemon was friends with them, including Ash. He could hang out with them without me. And with the fallout between Dee and me, he hadn’t been spending a lot of time with her.
Ridiculous or not, my feelings were hurt. And I hated that—hated that something as stupid as this would upset me.
Taking my phone upstairs, I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and changed into my jammies, still debating on texting him back. I wanted the willpower not to, kind of like my in your face, but damn if that wasn’t stupid considering everything that was going on.
On the flip side, I was butt sore about this. So I placed the cell on my stand and I climbed under the covers, pulling them to my chin. I stayed that way, beating myself up for not texting him back, for going out with Blake the first time, for kissing him, and for lying awake beating myself up. Finally, my brain had enough and it closed shop for the night.
Sometime later, I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not. I was in that hazy stage where reality mixed with the subconscious. Part of it was a dream, I knew that much, because I could see Daemon in this building. I’d catch sight of his dark hair and then he drifted away. He was in one room and before I could get to him, he went to another. It was an endless maze and he kept moving around, never responding to me as I yelled his name.
Frustration swelled inside me and my chest ached. Chasing him, never reaching him in time, losing him… It wouldn’t end.
And then the bed shifted and the building faded, evaporated into wisps of smoke and darkness. A heavy weight settled beside me. A hand brushed the hair back from my face, and I think I smiled, because he was here and that soothed me. I slipped back into deep sleep, where I wasn’t chasing Daemon in my dreams.