After dinner, the mismatched family left Nine to rest. Hero managed to persuade Spencer to help her take the dishes home and take care of Stray. Niko had been trying to get him to go home for a long rest for two days and used the exact same argument as her, but apparently Spencer could only be persuaded by his future wife. Granted, Spencer had been trying to get Niko home and to sleep, too, and Niko hadn’t found his godfather’s words all that compelling either.
Niko stood guard over his sister’s room after the pair departed. He would see how she was healing in a few more hours but meanwhile he had to find a way to kill time. There were a few children in the hospital that he had visited, but they had Thanksgiving dinner too. Sometimes he liked to lurk in the cafeteria to see what they had cooked up that day for their poor residents. Other times he stared at vending machines estimating how many germs lurked on the buttons or which bag of chips was really just a tease that would take three purchases to actually fall. The signs in the hallways could be fun – he made it a game to find the one with the most grammatical errors. However, all those entertainments had pretty much been enjoyed to their limit. So for now he sat in a chair and tried to make his mind wander to happier things than his cut up sister.
The happiest he could manage was thinking about last time she emerged from the fray. The first time she laughed, the first time she came out to watch TV with them, the day she decided to pick up roller skates and speed down the sidewalk, her renewed kisses on his freckled cheeks. Niko had held himself together somehow, as if the emergency of his sister’s sanity stilled his own head games until she could start consoling him again.
That’s when he remembered he had an appointment with Ichabod coming up and laughed out loud. That would be an adventure. He doubted Ichabod expected to have such a fragile and damaged person in his care. Niko had decidedly stopped taking his pills since Nine returned to the hospital and hadn’t told anyone. He wasn’t sure how much longer he would lie about it but he didn’t think he had the patience to have a full conversation about it yet.
A glimpse of Clem cleared the fog of these thoughts. He hadn’t seen her since they had taken her into the ambulance. He had purposely blockaded himself from thinking of her too much. She had a whole family worrying about her and he thought she would hate it if he added to the toll. However the image of her rushing to him while carrying her IV stand struck him and he immediately jumped to his feet with his hands out to catch her just in case.
“Niko,” she whispered, “we have to get out of here!”
Niko had to rewind her words a few times before he said, “Why?”
“The police think you did it,” she grabbed onto his arm and pulled toward the nearest exit. “I overheard them talking and Bade’s gone and there’s no evidence he was there and they said your interview and Jason’s don’t match.”
Niko didn’t release himself into Clem’s grip. She hardly had the strength and her hurried speech worried him. She was speaking like he would when he got particularly paranoid. “Did they say they thought it was me?” These were the sort of questions he’d been trained to ask himself. However, her declarations sent bees stirring menacingly in his head. The police thought he did it? Did they think because he stopped taking his pills…but he hadn’t stopped until afterward…but how would they even know?
“They might as well have!” she nearly shouted but the secrecy of the situation shunned her yells into a very forceful whisper. “You have to get out of here. We have to go.”
This was the other problem, the other reason he couldn’t yield his raising concern. “We?” He obliged her a few steps toward the door. “Clem, you still have an IV in you. You don’t have the strength!”
“They were about to take it out!” she exclaimed far too quickly and easily to have been a lie. She returned to a hush, “They just wanted to wait until after we had dinner. I’ll take it out myself -”
Niko stopped her hand with his. “I’ll do it.” With a few very simple steps he had released her from the IV’s hold and held tape over the bend in her arm. He had a lot of experience with the escape of IVs. “Okay,” he breathed and stared into her dark ocean eyes, “so you think they think I did it?”
“Yes!” Clem groaned impatiently. “We have to go now! Who knows how long before they come here looking for you?” Her fear and the shake of her voice was all too convincing to Niko. He had no idea what was happening but it all felt so urgent. He glanced at his sister’s door before urging Clem outside.
“We need to get on a bus. I know where to go.”