“Traitor!” Theo screamed. He poised himself to jump from the floor and try that suffocating trick Mr. Wills seemed so fond of.
“It-I-I’m sorry!” Yvette whisper-yelled. She shot a glance at Mr. Wills who had by then proceeded to the door that Theo couldn’t open. “I had to save Dieter!”
“Well they would have taken me, wouldn’t they?”
“Noel is half-dead! There’s no way you all could get her out of here without raising questions. Even our fake officials can’t scare off scientists concerned about a bleeding teenager.”
Shoving himself from the ground, Theo raised his arms to grab Yvette’s shoulders. “You’ll-pa-”
A strong hand clenched his wrists.
“Lillian,” Theo growled, his voice lowering dangerously, “Let go of me.”
“Oh shut up, idiot.” Lillian pulled harder, forcing Theo backwards until his ears neared Lillian’s face. She was yelling now. “Don’t you know how to trust anyone? Are you so wrapped up in what you want that you’re unwilling to see things through a logical perspective?”
“I know! We all want to save Noel. But you trying to do things will only mess Yvette up.”
They paused to watch Yvette leave and fling open the door that Mr. Wills had gone through. “Mess Yvette up?" Theo yelled as soon as she was gone, "She just got Noel killed! I could have done something if she hadn’t changed the numbers.”
Doug and Dieter looked very ready to be out of the white room, and were edging towards the door while Carrie decided to help Lillian in the lecturing. “Yvette didn’t change the numbers. I saw it. All she did was bring up a new window.”
“You can’t read their gibberish, Carrie. And let go of me already!”
“I can tell when symbols change, Theo. Besides, you know Yvette. She’ll lie, but only as much as she has to.”
“She lied about her alienness for years!” Theo yelled. His arm throbbed under the force of Lillian’s grasp.
“Well she had to! Besides, it doesn’t matter, does it? Don’t you remember the questions we asked? Yvette probably called up some higher officers to ask for help. We hinted pretty strongly at it.”
Struggling from away from Lillian would take more energy than it was worth, so Theo paused to think.
“You know, Theo,” Doug said, messing up Dieter’s Rubik’s cube, “I bet Noel would have wanted you to go free.”
The word “who” slipped from Theo’s mouth, but he stopped himself at “cares”. He cared what Noel thought. Lillian dropped him to the floor, and Theo looked at the door, the weight of his decision settling in.
Yvette’s choice had left the door wide open. They could leave, live their lives, and pretend that this hadn’t happened. The only reminder would be a void where their favorite ditz had been. Or, if Lillian and Carrie were right, they could trust Yvette to bring Noel back for the ride.
What would happen if he burst through that force-regulated door to get Noel out? He suddenly felt a little sicker. Well, he couldn’t take all the aliens at once while getting Noel out at the same time. If he tried, the freaks would probably dispose of him too.
“Hello?” Carrie said, waving a hand in front of Theo’s face, “Are we gonna leave, or just sit here and watch the aliens bring a dying Noel in here to rip open her brain?”
Theo looked around at his friends. They could leave without him, couldn’t they? Then he could go for Noel. But who would help her out? According to the others, she wasn’t in the best condition, regardless of the super-healing he’d gifted her with.
“You remember the joke about French Horn players, right?” Lillian said, a sheepish smile on her face, “They're always right, even when they're probably wrong.”
“That’s right,” Carrie reaffirmed, “Noel would want you to leave her. So do it. Trust Yvette, or if you can’t do that, at least trust Noel.”
The door began opening. Time was up. “L-let’s get out of this place,” Theo stuttered, rushing to the exit. His head cleared immensely, though he still felt a little queasy. Noel’s door opened just as Theo was about to close his.
A moment of eye contact, and suddenly the screens in Theo’s head blinked on and off, spazzing with a picture of her smiling face, only less bloody. Noel smiled, sending him a mental thumbs up, and Theo closed the door.
He didn’t feel so sick anymore.
Mr. Wills and Mrs. Johns had been engaged in some jargon-filled conversation for a few minutes before Yvette finally walked in. She glanced at the door worriedly before hurrying to Noel’s side. “Hey, uh, well, I’m gonna get you out, okay? I promise.”
“Uh, are you sure? Won’t they be sort of mad?” Noel whispered back.
“I’m hoping to get them arrested before they can get mad. Besides, I think Theo will do something stupid if-”
She was cut off by Mrs. Johns who looked quite relieved. “Thank you for coming to your senses and joining us, Yvette. I see you were smart enough to brief Miss Finnard here on what will happen next.”
With the press of a button, Mrs. Johns released Noel from the torture machine she’d been chained to. She fell to the floor in a clump of hair and bones. While it was nice that Theo had made sure she’d heal, and wouldn’t feel pain, she was in great need of some food. Muscles atrophied pretty fast without energy to fuel the healing process.
“Here,” Yvette said, lifting Noel from the ground. She winced momentarily and whispered, “Sorry, I think I dislocated your arm.”
“Not at all. I feel like I got frostbite all over.”
Forgetting the severity of the situation, both girls giggled.
“What’s wrong?” Mr. Wills asked.
“Oh, nothing. Just some humor before we start the extraction, right Mr. Wills?” Noel bluffed, “I know you’re a big fan of puns. Want to hear one?”
“No.” the man said, creaking open the door. Apparently force was only necessary on one side.
A blur of black hair that must have been Theo whipped to the other side of the exit door. His eyes peeked out, and Noel met his gaze, silently thanking Yvette for getting everyone else out. She smiled, watching him disappear from behind the closing door.