BioQuest: He Stayed

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Booker focused on the men left to fight, his back to her and Jack. He had only just met this child, but… Tenenbaum slipped her hand around Jack’s arm and led him away.
The gunfire faded as they went back to Bathysphere, Jack going in first and falling back on the seat as she closed the door. A shift, and they were off, directly to Olympus Heights this time. Travel to Port Neptune was restricted, but fortunately it seemed Ryan had not done the same in reverse.

“Dr. Tenenbaum,” he questioned her, eyes catching the lights they passed. His hands were folded in his lap, and he stared up at her with such concern. They had done so much to this boy, a feat of science and their egos, but still he was so innocent and trusting…

“Who was that man?” His eyes flicked to the buildings behind her, and it occurred to her that he had only travelled by Fontaine’s submarines before this. “Is he going to be okay?”

“I don’t know, child,” she answered, dropping to the seat herself. Her limbs were heavy, her mouth, dry. She lived with death in the German prison camps, and it didn’t matter then.

So why did the thought of Booker lying dead in that port, this man she barely knew, sit like rocks on her chest?

They rode in silence, his hand resting on her shoulder. And when they docked, he held her hand as she led him through tunnels to his new home. Born from Ryan and his whore, raised by Fontaine, Suchong, and herself… Where did he learn such quiet kindness?

As they descended the stairs to the double doors to her haven, his hand tightened on hers and she stopped. “Are you scared? Jack?”

“Who’s in there?” There it was, a sign of the damage they’d done. She crouched in the dark, dirty stairway to be at his level.

“There are children like you, little girls, who need our help.” Even in shadow, she could see the smile come to his face. He had never met any other children; Jack had been hidden for his entire life.

“And there is a woman watching over them, Elizabeth.” She took his other hand in hers, standing tall again. “This is not a lab, but our home.”

“Home?” She nodded once, and the door opened to spill light onto the staircase. Elizabeth and one of the little ones waited there.

“Someone’s come to play,” the girl shouted, running to tell her sisters as her bare feet smacked against the stone floor.

“Oh, you found him!” Elizabeth brightened, but she was searching beyond them and did not see who she was looking for. “Where is Booker?”

“Booker?” Jack looked from Elizabeth to her, his smile gone. “Is that the man from the port?”

“Yes, that’s him,” Elizabeth reassured him and herself, walking out to the first step. Tenenbaum let his hands go. These two had come to help her and already, one was gone. “Tenenbaum, what happened?”

Before she could answer, Jack spoke. “He didn’t come with us. He stayed to fight so we could run.”

– – –

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

– – –

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