“I loved her,” Tobie said on national television that first week after the war, face as blank as her eyes were blade-bright, dressed in humanity like a poorly-fitted suit. “What else is there to say? She died, and I loved her.”
“Like a sister, of course,” the talk show host says, and Tobie shakes her head.
“Like a girlfriend,” Tobie says, and ignores the shock that permeates the room.
Tobie, too, can be brave.
She talks to Rachel, sometimes.
Little things, like «I caught a skunk today. Accidentally. I had to morph five times to get the smell off.»
or «Today I went to the mall as Taylor, wearing that dress you liked.»
or «Did you know someone wrote a romance novel about us? I couldn’t finish it.»
And Rachel – the Rachel who lives in the back of her mind, the ghost of a ghost, answers 'Remember the time with the grape juice? You're lucky you know more than Vissor Three did.'
or ‘Taylor, Tobie, really? You know that’s not healthy. And you never wear the green skirt I got you.’
or 'Tell me I killed something in it, at least. Or get Marco to sue the publisher for slander.'
She talks to Marco, too, and Ax and Cassie. Never Jake. Jake is an open wound, and she hates how much she misses him. Hates how thinking of him makes her want to be human and cry in his lap like a little girl.
Rachel was her girlfriend. Jake was her brother. She lost them both with Rachel’s death, lost her whole family, and she misses them all, a tangle of hurt and need like a cancer growing under her breast.
“I didn’t think you’d come,” Marco says, once the doors of his rented villa are closed. Tobie shrugs awkwardly, draped in one of Marco’s dress shirts.
“I -” her voice fails her. «I had to see this through.»
Marco nods, and doesn’t comment on her use of thought-speak. “I’ll make some calls, get you some clothes for the hearing. Something in red.”
Tobie smiles for that, deliberately, the stretch of her mouth strange. «Rachel thought I looked good in green.»
“Green, then,” Marco says, in the silence that falls. He laughs, suddenly, mouth twisting wryly. “Rosemary, for remembrance. The only thing I remember from Hamlet. Did I tell you I failed my GED last month?”
Tobie closes her eyes, memories bittersweet rising. «Idiot teenagers with a death wish, and failing grades in math.»
“Remember when Rachel tossed her math book into the river?” Marco askes. Tobie nods and swipes at her watering eyes.
"Towards - towards the end. Cassie did too.” Her voice breaks. «I miss her so much, Marco. What am I supposed to do?»
Marco takes a shuddering breath, and opens his arms to her. “I don’t know, little sister.”