“No. Not in there.” I slipped past him and moved down the hallway toward the Edward Suite. That morning, I’d been planning the best way to kill him in that room without anyone finding out it was me. Now it felt like the only safe place in Elsewhere.
I didn’t understand why until I reached the room and spotted the gold frame Greyson had given me. I sank onto the edge of the bed beside the nightstand and, setting my hot mug of tea down, I picked it up instead.
“What did Greyson say when you had me hauled off?” I said. Knox stepped into the room and closed the heavy wooden door behind him. The click of the lock reverberated through my chilled bones, and even though I knew I shouldn’t have trusted him, I didn’t have enough left in me to care anymore.
“I’m afraid father and son aren’t getting along very well at the moment,” he said. “Greyson is confined to Somerset for the foreseeable future.”
“You should tell him what’s going on.”
“And risk Daxton finding out? No.” Knox shook out a dark quilt and draped it over my shoulders. “The less Greyson knows, the safer it’ll be for him.”
“Didn’t you say the same thing about me?” I glanced up at him, and in the low light, I spotted lines on his face I hadn’t noticed before. “What’s the endgame, Knox? Why are we all doing this?”
He eased down onto the mattress beside me, leaving enough room between us so it didn’t become awkward. “Ideally, by the time my father’s generation is dead, we would like to see the country returned to some form of democracy, where the people decide on issues and a majority rules. Right now, the VIs are a small percent of the population—”
“Two percent,” I said. “Benjy told me that once.”
“Yes, two percent. Yet they’re the ones dictating what everyone else’s lives are going to be. It goes against basic human rights. Everyone should have freedom and choice, and that’s what we’re going to restore first and foremost. It won’t be an immediate change. We can’t have one, not without throwing the country into chaos all over again and creating an opening for another form of government that will only repress the people even more. Change and reform have to come from within, and I plan on helping it along.”
“So that’s it,” I said. “You’re going to be the Prime Minister.”
“Celia, more than likely,” he corrected. “If she’s stable enough for it. If not, then we’ll talk to Greyson. See if he’s willing to take the lead.”
“He won’t be.” I touched the glass over his face in the picture. “Not everyone wants to rule the world.”
“But everyone wants to live in their perfect version of it.”
I was quiet for a long moment. “If someone from the future came here tonight and told you that the only way for the rebellion to succeed was to kill me and Benjy, would you do it?”
“Yes,” said Knox without hesitating. I snorted. Somehow I wasn’t surprised.
“Would you bother to think about it at all? Even for a second?”
He shook his head. “I would hate doing it, and I would carry the burden of guilt for the rest of my life. But if it meant freedom and choice for every single person in this country, then I would. And you would let me.”
“Would I?” I said coolly.
“Yes. Because no matter who you pretend to be, you’re Kitty Doe. You put your life on the line again and again to protect the people you love, and you would never let millions die just so you could live.”
Seconds passed, and I was silent. He was right. In the end, everything was temporary, and a few more decades of breathing was nothing compared to a future where no one’s worth would be decided by a number on the back of their neck.
“Would you kill yourself?” I said. “If you knew it would make the rebellion succeed, would you put a gun to your head and pull the trigger?”
He exhaled and raked his hand through his hair. “I ask myself that every night. And every night I remember that death is inevitable for all of us. The only thing that really matters in the end is how we choose to live.”
Knox reached for the frame, but instead of taking it from me, he touched the switch on the back until Greyson and Lila melted away, and Benjy and I filled the screen.
“I don’t expect you to ever trust me again, Kitty. I don’t expect you to say a word to me once this is over one way or the other. But I see what being Lila puts you through day after day. I see your courage. I see your sacrifice. And I see you when I look at your face—not her. Not anymore.” He set his hand on my arm. “You’re not alone. You’ve never been alone, and I’m immensely grateful for all you’ve gone through to help us. I should have said it more before. But since I can’t go back, just like no one is coming from the future to tell us what to do, I’m going to say it now. Thank you.”
A lump formed in my throat, and I nodded tersely. Anything more and I would break down, and I’d done enough of that today to last me a lifetime.
I would never trust him again, and when this was over, Benjy and I would disappear inside our future together, and Knox would be nothing but a memory we never talked about. But right now, in a place full of people who would have been happy to watch us burn, he was my only real ally. And I suspected I was his.
“Can I keep this?” I said, staring at Benjy’s face.
“I brought it here for you.” Knox cleared his throat. “Kitty, I need you to promise me you won’t try to find those codes tonight. If you’re caught—”