Max closed the drawer with her stuff in it and climbed on the bed. She flopped on her back, a stuffed animal in her hand. I followed suit, staring at our new ceiling. Mr. Leland managed to pull some strings for me and Max to have a small dorm.
“So? What do ya think?” I looked at my little sister. Her eyes glanced around the room before a sigh escaped her lips.
“I like it. It’s nice and warm,” she said, turning to me.
“Good. We’ll be here for quite some time, so make yourself as comfortable as you can, okay?” Max nodded, rolling over to stare at the ceiling. I noticed her eyes drift over to the window and then the door where they stayed for several moments. “Something wrong?”
“They won’t come after us, will they?” By now, Max had sat up and was looking down at me.
“Of course not. I’ll make sure to send your letters off the base without a return address. That way they can’t track us,” I assured her, patting her back with my hand. Feeling confident about my answer, Max got up, went to the desk and took out her coloring book and crayons out of the top drawer. I listened to her start to color and dozed off—only to be woken a bit later by a booming knock on the door. Sitting up with my heart practically in my throat, I somehow managed to get to the door and pull it open.
“I wondered who my neighbors were and if I even had any,” a woman standing before me said. “Name’s Jaiden Williams, room 206,” she said, holding out her hand. I stared at it for a second before my manners finally kicked in.
“Marcus Knight, room—well I guess technically you know my room number already,” I laughed, shaking her hand.
“What about me?” Max said, coming to stand next to me.
“Jade for short,” she said quickly.
“Right. Jade, this is my little sister, Max.” I watched as our neighbor knelt down to be eye-to-eye with Max. Few people I knew would actually do that for her.
“Well, it’s a real pleasure to meet you Max. We should have a sleepover soon,” Jade said, smiling at her. I saw the look Max gave me—one more of confusion than an actual ‘can I go?’ look.
“I’ll explain later, Max… It was a pleasure to meet you, Jade,” I said, a smile on my face.
“How about we go get dinner together? I’m sure you both need to be given the tour.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Max nod.
“I guess that would be all right. Sure, why not?” Jade took Max’s hand and led her into the hall. Trailing after them as I closed the door, we made our way around the base. Jade had a unique way with Max—probably because she had few female figures as a role model—that helped her easily adjust to this new life.
It became a regular thing for us to get food together, walk around, and just generally hang out. There were some nights when we would stay up for hours talking, sometimes studying. Others, we would be out on patrol together. Most of those times, Max was asleep in my room as Jade and I strolled our way through the base. When we were out of range of the guards, we held hands—cautiously at first—but slowly it developed into more.