As promised, the entire third floor of the house was completely dark. Trey cursed as he hit his foot on a wall.
“Ren?” he called softly. “Where are you?”
“Twenty steps back, fourth door,” came the muffled reply.
“Twenty of your steps, or mine?”
Trey smiled at this, this was how he found her in the pit during Birdsong. Before Fagin took over, they would play games where they would have to find each other using simple clues. Ren always won. She never revealed her hiding spots, instead, she would direct Trey to them, letting him find her.
Twenty steps later, and through the fourth door, Trey walked into Ren’s bedroom. His eyes had begun to adjust to the dark, and he could make out the dim form of a bed, desk, and dresser. He walked forward, and almost tripped over Ren’s legs.
“Found me,” she said glumly as he slid down the wall to sit next to her.
“Well this really sucks,” he said, leaning his head against the wall.
“Yeah.” She wiped her nose on the blanket she was wrapped in. "It never rains, but pours.”
Trey laughed. “That sure is true. So what bothers you most about this?”
Ren sighed and leaned into his shoulder. “I still train every now and then. Aunt Kathy and Uncle Tim don’t know it, but I have a training room set up here. While they were at work one day, I set the whole thing up. I had a friend from school come and help me move everything. Every time I start, I hear Fagin telling me to work harder, that I’m not good enough. I still feel his wet breath on the back of my neck and his beady eyes drilling into my skull. It terrifies me. It’s not the fighting or training that bothers me. It’s the bad memories. It takes so much for me to even pick up a gun, or run through my obstacle course. I still do sometimes when I can’t sleep, and sometimes the fear makes me stronger. But the whole thing…I can’t concentrate with him. I know he’s dead, we all saw the body. But he’s still alive, up here,” she answered, tapping one finger against her temple.
“You went to school?” he asked.
She smiled. “Not the point. But yeah, for a semester. I was too smart for regular high school, so I was put in a performing arts school. I was only thirteen, I didn’t want to go to college that young. I became really close with a guy named Blake, he helped me set everything up.”
“So you’re not in school anymore?”
“No. It was boring. There was nothing they could teach me. I’ve got my GED, scored perfectly on the SAT, ACT, and ASVAB. There’s nothing else for me to do. If I ever want to, I can get into any school I want to, or get any job I want.”
“Well it seems like you’ve been doing pretty well for yourself in the past ten years,” Trey said. “Much better than me.”
She snuggled closer to him as he put one arm around her shoulders. “No, I’m just a genius.”
“According to all the tests, so am I,” he retorted.
“Yes, but you never applied yourself, or else you could have everything that I do.”
He rolled his eyes and smiled. “So would you be open to at least talking to the president and his cabinet?”
She sighed. “I don’t know. It still bothers me that no one in the outside world knew what was going on while we were there. Even with the tightest organization, there’s always a leak somewhere.”
“Well maybe this time there wasn’t. Or maybe there was, and that’s how the military came and rescued us. It may not have been in the time we wanted it to be, but I’m sure there’s a reason for it.”
“What do you think we should do, Tracey?” she asked softly.
“I think we should at least talk to them. While we may be the most famous pair from Birdsong, there’s so many others that they’ll have to convince. We were just the youngest recruits there. It’s the older ones that they might have a harder time finding.”
“If any are still alive,” she replied darkly. “We all suffered at different levels. Fagin had this uncanny way of knowing what everyone’s deepest fear, or biggest weakness was. And when he found it, he’d exploit it. There were so many that I talked to that were abused mentally, physically, sexually, you name it. We all suffered.”
He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “Let’s just talk to them and go from there, okay?”
She nodded and wrapped her arms around him.